“Over the past decade or so, social media technologies have gradually become a central part of our everyday lives.” (Macquarie University, 2018)
According to a census conducted by Common Sense Media (2019), a nonprofit that promotes the safe use of technology and media for young adults and children, it was found that young adults are spending an average of seven hours a day on their electronic devices. The study also revealed that teens are spending one hour and ten minutes a day in 2019 on social media, and for “the proportion of teens who say they use it “every day” has increased from 45% in 2015 to 63% in 2019” (Common Sense Media, 2019).
So, as we can see social media technologies have become a prominent part of young peoples’ everyday lives. Social media influencers play a large role in determining what the youth market consumes and is interested in, as young adults spend a large amount of time watching, liking, forwarding and commenting on influencers’ content (Frontiers, 2019). Especially with the ongoing COVID-19 environment, social media is being used at higher levels as they turn to influencers not only for entertainment, but for company, advice and comfort.
Influencers on social media are appealing to the younger generation as they have a sense of familiarity -whether it be culturally or socially- in which they can identify with. For the Indigenous youth, social media helps them “find and share their identities and produce intimate communities of mutual trust, respect, care and kindness” (Macquarie University, 2018).
Unfortunately, in Australia, there is still a lack of cultural representation of the Indigenous communities on social media. According to a study by Macquarie University (2018) on “Being Indigenous Online,” participants expressed mixed feelings about being ‘openly Indigenous’ on social media. Over “52% of the survey respondents indicated that they had been intentionally selective with what they post on social network sites in regards to their identity.” This is because many participants (88%) experienced “explicit forms of racism through prejudicial and/or discriminatory comments” online.
Makeup artist and DSG Coordinator at the Wirrpanda Foundation, Kaydee Kyle-Taylor, is a proud woman of Aboriginal and Maori heritage, aiming to change the representation game of women of colour in social media and the makeup industry. Kaydee explains that her cultural awakening didn’t occur until adolescence, and that “The lack of representation just made me realise that I had to be that person. I had to be that person that people could relate to, every other black girl could relate to” (Shein True, 2019). Kaydee further describes that she focuses on women of colour makeup because:
“I look at the influencers we have in Australia, and they’re all white. They’re all white Australian influencers, white Australian makeup artists” -Kaydee Kyle-Taylor
As a result, Kaydee and a fellow Aboriginal makeup artist, Rosie Kalina started a project called Makeup for Mob on Instagram. Here, they use their platform to showcase other Aboriginal makeup artists to give them the opportunity to weave their cultural elements into their content. This allows them to convey their stories to viewers and their community.
Influencer and Youth Worker Brooke Blurton is a “proud Noongar/Yamatji woman with traditional ties to Whadjuk-Ballardong country in South West of Western Australia” (LinkedIn, 2019). Through social media, TV networks, public speaking and campaigns, she uses her platform to connect with young people to educate them on important issues of Aboriginal representation, cultural inclusivity, suicide prevention and mental health. Some of you may know her for being ‘a girl’ from The Bachelor — but Brooke believes this role doesn’t connect with her identity; it doesn’t define her. Brooke identifies with being an “influencer everyday; but as a youth worker. I positively influence young people’s lives” (TEDX x UWA, 2019). She aims to use her platform to be a positive role model for Aboriginal youth and to educate and empower them; instilling self confidence and self determination.
“I was just a young girl who didn't know how to read or write. I was a young girl who had to repeat years of schooling. I was a young girl who didn’t have the confidence to use my voice, and even talk.” -Brooke Blurton
Brooke states in a TEDX x UWA (2019) talk that she faced many hardships growing up. As a result, she has refused to let prejudices against her cultural background and upbringing define her identity and stop her from reaching her true potential. Through her youth work, her ambassadorship for the RU OK? Charity, and her coveted sports reporter role for SBS’s NITV, she is harnessing her voice to push for more Indigenous Australian representation in mainstream media, so that young Indigenous generations feel more empowered to reach their true potential.
Here at Yarn, we use our social media platforms to promote the important work of our Indigenous community partners who include the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation, Gunawirra and Nutrition Plus. Each of these groups make significant contributions to Indigenous communities and their wellbeing. We use our Instagram, Facebook and blog platforms to provide the Indigenous and wider Australian community with information about the significance of these non-for-profits community work and services. Indigenous artists are also featured on our social media, whereby we provide them with the opportunity to share their culture and heritage, and the stories and symbolism featured in their works.