Influencers should never memorialize nor profit from tragedies

Every September 11th, I will hear a new story from a survivor that makes tears instantly fall from my face. Also, I expect a brand to make an inappropriate post. Now, this year it wasn’t a mattress store offering a twin mattress sale. It was two lifestyle bloggers, Dani Austin and Collins Tuohy-Smith.

IMG_4117.jpegAustin is the founder of The Sassy Club and was in New York for Fashion Week. Collins Tuohy-Smith’s family was portrayed in the 2009 film, The Blindside, and owns the up and coming cookie franchise, Whimsy. On September 12, I pitched an op-ed piece to several publications and I have not heard back. In this case, I feel as though urgency is needed due to the fact no one is talking about this. This topic about influencers needs discussion.

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Each blogger had a similar pose wearing a cute outfit in front of the skyline that is absent of the One World Trade Center. Tuohy-Smith was on a rooftop looking down in pose commonly used by influencers. While Dani was posing by a viewer on top of the Empire State Building. The photos were tasteless and poor judgment for memorializing those who lost their lives.

Their prompts mentioned: do you remember 9/11?,  it’s so sad we went through this, and I love NYC. Every American has the right to post about how this day should never be forgotten. That includes everyone in rural America who have never seen the New York Skyline. However, the influencers’ prompt seemed insincere when matched up with the photo.

Brands from mattresses, pregnancy tests, and boutiques will pay bloggers to promote items on their social media feed. Austin has partnered with Southwest Airlines and made a post within the past week about flying with them to New York. Initially, I didn’t think she had partnered with a brand, but instead, she had another trick up her sleeve.

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While leaving the Americana Awards, I thought I had found a hat. I’ve been on the search for a budget-friendly hat that looks like buffalo roamed on my family’s farm. @southernglamourblog wore a hat, which I thought would be linked in the app, LikeToKnow.it. I had to explain to my friend how the app worked and why I was mad when I saw this. Sadly, I was not as disappointed that I could not find the hat because my hard work of that op-ed changed. Instead, Dani Austin’s 9/11 post showed up where she could monetize through her blog. Initially, I took that screenshot to show a mentor in public relations.

Here’s how LikeToKnow.it by RewardStyle works, you download the app, which notices the screenshot of a photo that an affiliated blogger posts on Instagram. That photo will have similar items or the exact item in that photo to help the consumer. Plus, the influencers can make money when items get purchased through the links directed to the app.

In 2013, Spaghetti O’s came under fire for having a social media post that memorialized Pearl Harbor with the logo holding an American flag. It was inappropriate for another day that was meant to be reverent. If I made a post of me on December 8 holding a Mai Tai on a Hawaiian beach with a prompt that said “Today’s why World War Two began,” that would be just as bad as the bloggers’ 9/11 post.

I’m still moved by my visit to Pearl Harbor so I do not appreciate Spaghetti O’s post. In 2009, I visited Ground Zero and just like Pearl Harbor, you cannot help but think of the hell that happened at those locations. My Facebook page was flooded with pictures of my friends at the 9/11 memorial. Once again, they have the right to say how they feel. However, none of them had a pose where they looked down all cutesy.

My hope is that LikeToKnow.it has the guts to take down the links to the photo and create a new policy for posts relating to a tragedy. Macy’s clearly does not have a 9/11 sale. Many Americans are still going through they own PSTD from 9/11 and no one should be making a dime off selling clothes on anything related to this date.

Now I know I have a small percentage of the followers that these bloggers have. I have blogged as a writer since 2010 before you had to learn how to take a cute photo, own a Gucci belt, and have brands back you. I don’t care about my following, because I love writing. I am prepared to be attacked by the influencer community where I will be viewed as not hip, mean, critical, rough, being upset by anything, or taking things seriously.

The best lesson that I learned is social media was from my former boss, Tim Nicholson. With his strategy, we were not going to post stuff in reference to memorial holidays unless we had a story that reflected on it. His thoughts were that we often were just saying “Never Forget” like everyone else then it did nothing to our mission.

This September 11th, I was working as a freelance runner for ESPN for the USA vs. Mexico soccer game. The make-up artist was from the New York area. After asking her what events she normally worked on, she insisted that I watch the ESPN special on 9/11 that she worked on the set. Then I told her that I saw the story of Welles Crowther, a former lacrosse player and firefighter turned equity trader, that saved many lives that day. Yet, his courage and bravery cost him his own life. She stated how she watched the towers fall from her suburban home. Then I was in awe when she said, “I could name 14 more people I knew personally that perished that day.”

I know I’m just a girl who grew up in rural Missouri, who lives in Nashville, but these stories still need to be repeated. However, let’s reserve social media to hear the stories similar to Welles Crowther and Lt. Heather Penney, who was essentially given orders for a suicide mission to bring down United Flight 93. I’m grateful Lt. Penney did not have to sacrifice her life that day. As Americans, we need to help each other out if it is through criticizing this poor choice by a person and a brand or by saying a simple thank you.

You do not have to be sponsored by Uber or any brand to thank your servicemen. A lot of people in the service from Clarksville, TN come to Nashville to drive for Uber. I immediately tell them “thank you for your service” because I don’t know if they were given orders to the extent of Lt. Penney.

On 9/11, it should not be associated with sales, the blogger pose where you peer down, and clothes. We can express our love for our country and the sadness of 9/11, but let’s be cautious when we post. If you are visiting a memorial in your state or in a different country, please do not pose at that place. While I will admit, Whimsy makes good cookies and these girls have good clothes, but the posts should have never been made. I do not want the day my nation was attacked to be glammed up with an advertisement.

 

 

A Night at the Americana Honors and Awards

How I got to go

My luck for winning random things, I guess you could say began when I won a VHS of Hook in 4th Grade. I want to lie and say I shouted “RUFIO!” when I won. However, I was speechless when my request for Margo Price’s song “A Little Pain,” was the winning request for tickets to the Americana Honors and Awards. Thank you Lightning 100’s Noon Request Lunch Hour. Trust me this station has introduced me to many new artists. Before moving to Nashville, I heard Sheryl Crow endorse the station.

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What I wore

My first thought was “what do I even wear to an award show?” I had never been to one at all. So I Googled photos from the past AHAs. The search results were: Margo Price had on an awesome dress, my girl Emmylou Harris was wearing a blouse and slacks (okay she can do whatever), and Alynda of Hurray for the Riff Raff well she had on a suit that looked like it was designed by Manuel. I know that most artists wear clothes you would be surprised by the price tags even if it looks simple. I didn’t want to spend money so I decided to go through my closet. If you do happen to go and you have a pair of jeans with a top that looks like Free People, you are good. After all, Don Was wore flip-flops with a cowboy hat and a suit.

When I found a cream Gunne Sax by Jessica McClintock dress in the back of my mom’s bedroom closet at my grandparent’s house in middle school, I wanted it. It was what Emmylou Harris would wear in the 70s. My mom wore it to a dance. Personally, I wanted to wear it to a dance or have it in senior pictures. It was obvious it wouldn’t look right. However, Americana Fest, yes it could work. With the thrift stores in East Nashville, the dress had to work. IMG_4138.JPG

I paired it with a pair of Madden Girl heels, tassel black earrings by Valerie Blanche, a Kendra Scott bracelet, a barrette my mom had in the 80s, and my mother’s Onyx ring, which has an awesome story for another day. Also because the dress would show everything, I had to get a slip. I ordered a Kate Kasin cami dress on Amazon. It is the same one I wore to the art crawl this weekend. It did make me feel like Carrie Bradshaw on the Sex and The City Intro.

Trust me I enjoyed getting ready. I used this night as training for awesome make-up on myself for my sister’s wedding next week. However, I rarely wear red lipstick on top of winged eyeliner, which that will be absent at her wedding. I freaked out when the queen, Margo Price had her hair up in a half updo like me. IMG_4129.jpeg

The Show

Now let’s talk about the event. If you ever go to AHA, try to attend the event early. There were people still going through security when we were seated and the show started. When I walked in, I noticed Alejandro Escovedo. I was in shock and I politely introduced myself to him. I then took a picture with him. It wasn’t the greatest with the lighting, but you cannot be picky when running into an artist.

IMG_4141.jpeg My seats were on the main floor. Even though the Ryman is an impressive venue for the 1800s, you have to remember the engineering back then. There are posts that support the balcony, which can obstruct the view at times at the bottom when the artists move around. The one thing I was shocked by was the constant movement. The announcers are on the left side of the stage, then the stagehands are moving equipment around for the next performers. Also, the artists were leaving their seats and coming back constantly to present or perform.

It was really awesome to see how the awards were tailored to each artist. Buddy Guy’s award had polka dots. I really wish I could have seen the awards up close since I love looking at art to inspire me when drawing.

However, for all of these years, I did not appreciate the Milk Carton Kids, the hosts, enough. They created a comedic environment while presenting. It truly showed when the PA system went bonkers and they had to tell the audience that they would reboot the system so an honoree, Irma Todd could sing again.

Everyone knows that I love going to shows. This may not be Dave Ramsey approved, but I told myself while moving here, just try to go to one show a month, it can be free or you can pay it. My one show a month trick has helped me contain myself. I went from living in a small town to Music City. My list of artist that I want to see is crazy. Last night I can say that I finally got to see Anderson East, Don Was, Brandi Carlile, Lukas Nelson & the Promise of Real, John Prine, and Nathaniel Rateliffe and the Night Sweats. Plus, the Ryman amplifies a good artist’s abilities. The show was truly like getting a buffet for all of the artists. I have missed Lukas Nelson everytime he has been in town so I was just gracious to hear only “Forget about Georgia.”

I saw a cute little girl in a green striped dress with pink earmuffs on when I realized this cutie was Mercy Isbell. I have so many expectations for that little girl since she is the child of Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires. I nudged my friend, Margaret, and said there’s Mercy. We were both in awe because we frequently share Jason and Amanda’s IG stories to each other. Yes, I expect kids to be curious, but that girl seemed to be fairly well behaved from a distance. It was precious seeing her point to her mom’s nose.

I felt conflicted cheering for all of the artists. I mean when you have Jason Isbell, Margo, and Brandi up for an award, who would you cheer for? However, it helped me enjoy the event more. Jason Isbell won 3 out of 4 awards, but lost to John Prine for Artist of the Year. Now I feel as though I’m great about finding great artists. However, I feel like I have missed a hidden gem. Courtney Marie Andrews is like a mixture of Joni Mitchell with Jenny Lewis. She sang back up for a few songs on Jimmy Eat World’s album Invented. She had a pretty awesome jumpsuit.

I’m still floored by my experience from last night. Also, let’s say I might have danced like Elaine on Seinfeld in my seat. The ending number was an Aretha Franklin Tribute with “Chain of Fools,” which was appropriate to end the night. This will be a night that I certainly will not forget. Americana Fest is still ongoing so

Americana Fest is still ongoing so there are more events everywhere. Margo Price will have a Meet and Greet at Third Man on 9/13 at 6 pm. Also, Emmylou is hosting Woofstock on 9/16, which has a pretty awesome lineup.