I just spent three days at VidCon, the annual social media convention in Anaheim, hanging out with a few thousand current and future internet celebrities. And it’s increasingly obvious to me that the teenagers and 20-somethings who have mastered these platforms — and who are often dismissed as shallow, preening narcissists by adults who don’t know any better — are going to dominate not just internet culture or the entertainment industry but society as a whole.

我在阿纳海姆的年度社交媒体大会上待了三天,和数千名现在/未来的网红们在一起。我越来越清晰的认识到,这些掌握社交媒体平台的年轻网红(他们往往被一些不了解情况的成年人视为肤浅、自满的自恋狂),他们正在主宰网络文化或娱乐产业,甚至整个社会。

One day at VidCon, I hung out with a crew of teenage Instagram stars, who seemed to spend most of their time filming “collabs” with other creators and complimenting one another on their “drip,” influencer-speak for clothes and accessories. (In their case, head-to-toe Gucci and Balenciaga outfits with diamond necklaces and designer sneakers.) Another day, I witnessed an awkward dance battle between two budding TikTok influencers, neither of whom could have been older than 10.

在媒体大会上,我与一群十几岁的Ins网红呆在一起,他们似乎大部分时间都是在跟其他创作者一起拍摄“合作视频”,并互相称赞对方的衣服和配饰。(他们很多人从头到脚都是Gucci和Balenciaga的衣服,搭配亮晶晶的项链和潮牌运动鞋。)我还观看了两个刚蹿红的抖音网红之间的一场尬舞对决,他们看上去还不到10岁。



Natalie Alzate, a YouTuber with more than 10 million subscribers who goes by Natalies Outlet, is an example of the wave of influencers who treated their online brand-building as a business rather than a fun hobby. Four years ago, when Ms. Alzate first came to VidCon, she was a marketing student with fewer than 7,000 subscribers. She decided to study her favorite YouTubers, watch how they made their videos and then test videos in multiple genres, seeing which ones performed best on her channel.

娜塔莉·阿尔扎特的YouTube频道,订阅者超过1000万。她是这一批网红中的佼佼者,他们把打造网络品牌当成一种生意,而不是一种兴趣爱好。四年前,当阿尔扎特第一次参加社交媒体大会时,她还只是一名市场营销专业的学生,只有不到7000名订阅者。
于是她决定研究一下自己最喜欢的那些YouTube网红,看看他们是如何制作视频的,然后测试不同类型的视频,看看哪类在她的频道上表现最好。

“I grew up watching people, like Michelle Phan, that were building legacies out of, honestly, just being really relatable online,” Ms. Alzate said. “It was always an aspiration.”

“我的老师是米歇尔·潘这样的网络达人,说实话,他们做的一切就是吸引人们,让人们产生共鸣,”阿尔扎特说。“这也是我一直在做的事。”


In truth, influencers have been running the world for years. We just haven’t called them that. Instead, we called them “movie stars” or “talk-radio hosts” The ability to stay relevant and attract attention to your work has always been critical. And who, aside from perhaps President Trump, is better at getting attention than a YouTube star?

事实上,网红已经统治这个世界很多年了。我们以前只是称他们为“电影明星”、“脱口秀主持人”。保持与时俱进和吸人眼球是网红的重要工作能力。除了特朗普,还有谁比YouTube网红更吸引眼球呢?


Sometimes, that meant appearing in photos and videos with more popular influencers in an attempt to increase their own following, a practice known in influencer circles as “clout chasing.” Other times, it meant going to panels with titles like “Curating Your Personal Brand” and “How to Go Viral and Build an Audience.” For VidCon’s featured creators, the super-famous ones with millions of followers, it can mean spending the day at a meet-and-greet with fans before going out to V.I.P. parties at night.

与更受欢迎的网红一起出现在照片和视频中,以增加自己的关注者,这种做法在网红圈子里被称为“追逐影响力(蹭热度)”。有时还要参加一些“打造个人品牌”和“如何制作爆红视频快速吸粉”为主题的讨论会。对于社交媒体大会的大牌主创们,也就是那些拥有数百万粉丝的超级明星来说,他们白天要和粉丝见面,晚上则出去参加VIP派对。

Not all of the young people I met at VidCon will spend their whole lives pursuing internet fame. Some of them will grow up, go off to college and wind up becoming doctors, lawyers or accountants. Some will fizzle out and be replaced by a younger generation of internet stars.

当然,并不是所有年轻网红都会一辈子去追逐网络名气。他们中的一些人长大后会去上大学,最终成为医生、律师或会计师。还有一些人会失败,被年轻一代的网红取代。

But the lessons they learned from performing on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok will stick with them, regardless of where they end up. Just as the 20th century groomed a generation of children steeped in the ethos of TV culture, the 21st century will produce a generation of business moguls, politicians and media figures who grew up chasing clout online and understand how to operate the levers of the attention economy.

不管他们最终成为什么样的人,他们在YouTube、Ins和抖音的表演中学到的经验会一直伴随着他们。就像20世纪培养了一代沉浸在电视文化氛围中的孩子一样,21世纪也将培养出商界大亨、政界人士和网红达人,他们在成长过程中追逐网络影响力,懂得如何将影响力与生意结合起来。

“In the early days, it felt like this was a sub-niche of youth culture,” Beau Bryant, the general manager of talent at Fullscreen, a management agency for digital creators, told me at VidCon. He gestured around at a room filled with influencers sitting on velvet couches. Some were taking selfies and editing their Instagram stories. Others were holding business meetings about partnerships and sponsored content deals.

“以前,我觉得网红文化是年轻人文化中的小圈子” 人才总监博·布莱恩特对我说。他指了指满屋坐在丝绒沙发上的网红们。一些人在自拍,编辑他们的Ins故事。一些人在讨论合作和赞助交易之类的事情。

“Now, it just feels like this is what youth culture is,” Mr. Bryant said.

“现在,网红文化就是年轻人文化,”布莱恩特说。

In other words, influencers are the future. Dismiss them at your .

换句话说,网红就是未来。忽视他们的力量是很危险的。