THE Creativity Chronicles
For those who may not know, the latest story in the media is about a social star named Clemmie Hooper, or as you might know her, Mother of Daughters. Long story short (from what I can piece together) Clemmie (who is a successful Instagrammer with 672k followers, acclaimed midwife and author) set up a false alias named Alice in Wanderlust in order to support herself on social media and shield herself from negativity and trolling. Sadly it spun out of control pretty quickly and what happened is that Clemmie resorted to trolling others (including her own husband) to boost herself, becoming pretty much the exact person she wanted to escape from.
From my understanding savvy social media followers worked out that Alice and Clemmie were one and the same from a few slips in her cover story including the fact that both women were messaging from St Lucia at the same time. When Clemmie came clean, she phoned her fellow social media influencers, bloggers and friends to apologise personally but to ask them not to “out” her – some agreed to this and some didn’t, understandably hurt by the behaviour of a peer and in some cases, a close friend. One report said that Clemmie had consoled a close friend who was being bullied online (and it turned out she was the one making the hurtful comments).
Firstly, let me make it clear that I have no problem with Clemmie, I don’t really know her and there is no denying the fact that she is a skilled midwife, a knowledgeable woman and a dynamic marketer. I actually discovered that I follow her on social media but I wouldn’t class myself as a “follower”, I can’t think of anything she says that I particularly have been invested in and I’m not particularly aware of her posts (but that’s probably due to the algorhythm – anybody else seeing the same six people on repeat? Ha!) It all seems a bit #gifted to me which isn’t really my bag. (I have noted whilst writing this article that her entire social account has now been deleted)
But I have no problem with Clemmie and I don’t feel angry at her for what she’s done – what I mainly feel is sad. Sad that this is what someone will do to appear successful. Sad that integrity comes before popularity, that your Instagram number, your interaction, your “success” can drive someone to do something like this. Being SEEN a certain way means more than being authentic, it means more than honesty and connection. Isn’t that depressing?
I’m sure we can all think of less extreme examples – of people who care about looking a certain way online. Those who stage smiling family photos inbetween the meltdowns or shove all the crap into a corner just to get the perfect Christmas tree image or who take selfie after selfie after selfie until the results are “good enough” to put online. But goodness, isn’t this an exhausting way to live. Can’t we just be authentic (not #authentic, I mean the real deal)
And it’s not that Clemmie was doing this for just a couple of weeks, the entire façade went on for nearly nine months – you could grow a baby and push it out in that time #justsaying That isn’t a “mistake” or a lapse of judgment”, that’s a completely conscious manipulation in order to appear “better” online. It meant hurting real people that she cares about in order to be more popular and polished. Months and months of deception that didn’t simply end when she realised the depth of her disloyalty, it ended because she had been caught (horrible fact but one I think should be addressed). Think how many more people could be doing this online? The truth is that you can be anybody socially – as we’ve seen from recent TV show “The Circle”, social media can be such an unsafe place – not only for those being misled but for those people like Mother of Daughters. It’s not safe mentally to be able to encourage and influence such behaviour.
The quest for success, the thirst for the top, the need for approval, acceptance, adoration, all from a sea of unseen followers. If Instagram closed tomorrow what would her effort have been worth? Sure, she has her book deal and her sponsored posts but at what cost? Her friendships, her family, her integrity – money can’t buy these things.
I’ve come up against it. I’ve been weighed and measured by how “successful” I am online, how popular I am, what my number is. And that’s the thing – my number is low but my integrity is high but who cares about integrity? People want to know your stats – your engagement, your followers, your figures, your financial worth. When did we lose sight of what “worth” really is? Because if you have to act like Clemmie to be worth something then what has society become? And she’s just one woman, right? A one off example – or is she one of many but she’s the one we know about. Because who doesn’t want to be more popular, and more successful and more seen?
I’ve realised actually, I don’t. If I’m judged by my follower number then that’s something I don’t want to be a part of. Clemmie has £671k more followers than me and I’ll take it – she can have the followers and I’ll take my small handful of friendships. What I find saddest of all is that when caught and backed into a corner, on the phone apologising, Clemmie’s priority still appeared to be the public and how she was seen, not authentically owning her actions and re-building her relationships. Just like the Lord of the Rings, the precious profile comes before everything.
Clemmie is simply a daughter of media, someone sucked in and spat out, caught in a spin cycle trying to impress and risking what matters most to appear popular to those who matter least. And that probably isn’t entirely her fault as the pressure to be popular as an influencer means you lose yourself to the system. But it’s an eye-opening lesson for us all. How much time has she lost to keeping the story up, planning and scheming and scripting, consumed in a web of lies that hurt the people that matter most. Was it worth it? I would be interested to know her answer. As a fellow mother of daughters, I know who I want my daughters to see staring back at them and that can only be measured by my actions. And it’s these actions that will make all of the difference in how my daughters learn to react and respond to social media.
As I said, I don’t know Clemmie and this article could be about anyone, she’s just the current example in the news but I wanted to address it and to say let’s care less about popularity, let’s not say something to be seen a certain way or follow others only to unfollow in a bid to boost our numbers. I wish that I could sit with Clemmie and have a coffee together, not to judge but to give her a hug and tell her that all she ever had to be is true. Ain’t that the truth.