Long live the beige-fluencers, how introverts finally got their own content
Tomato girl aesthetic, cozycore, neat goblin mode, beige-fluencer. They're all forms of introverted influencer content on TikTok
image Euphoria, HBO
words Rhys Thomas
Did you see the article in The Guardian recently by New Statesman columnist Sarah Manavis? It’s all about beige-fluencers. That’s right, the people “wearing matching pyjama sets, cooking dinner at home, working out at 5am, buying flowers, lighting candles, stretching” and generally elevating “tedious activities to the status of aspirational living”. There’s finally an overarching term for these categories of people: tomato girl aesthetic, cozycore, the less goblin mode and more neat, minimalist side of bed rotting. They’re all forms of beige-fluencer.
The article is a smart articulation of this trend. Showing how ‘romanticising your life’ has become the norm, that people seem to be aspiring to be a little bit ‘mid’, and that those who have adopted a life that is very on the rails are feeling good about it. But it got us thinking more broadly about what this trend in cosier content generally means for our generation, and what it says about us.
Given so many people (there’s near 1.5bn views on the subject ‘romanticise your life’, and 10.7bn views for ‘introverted’ on TikTok alone, for example) are creating this content and enjoying it, that the less recent bed rot moment was also a thing (6.6m views), and tomato girl summer (27.5m views). It looks like content made by people who are more introverted is becoming a thing. Now, you may be wondering, how does that work? An introvert openly vlogging their day to millions of people? Well there’s the thing. Unlike those a little older than us who happen to use TikTok, many of us have grown up with phones that have cameras, and as a result the complete candid democratisation of filming and being filmed.
The oldest of us Gen Zs were roughly 12 when the LG Cookie came out, and according to the children's bureau that’s when kids tend to get a phone, so effectively, for as long as Gen has had a phone, they’ve been able to film content on it (the LG Cookie had a 3.0 megapixel camera which recorded video at 12 frames per second). And that’s the oldest Gen Z types. The younger of us will have had smartphones filming them with phones that have 4K capability, since the minute they were born. Additionally, TikTok launched in the UK in September 2017, so most people under 18 will have had TikTok the second they joined social media. On TikTok, if you want to be involved beyond lurking or commenting, you’re creating content.
This is all to say the threshold for introversion and being on video has shifted. Just as the older generations aren’t generally as weirded out about a phone call as we are, we’re very much accustomed to FaceTime – we had webcams when we were on MSN! Therefore we’re more confident on camera than we ever have been, and even people who are more traditionally introverted will be content creating on TikTok, and they’ll be showing their lives just as others do. And - you guessed it - these lives are tamer than those of content creators from times gone by.
The fact that this content became relatable, and liked, and viral, will have prompted others to do the same. Even if people don’t understand why they’re suddenly internet-famous. Often, videos are BeReal (even if it has sort of fallen off, the app hit the top of the App store in the US in July 2022) and Pinterest (which is still extremely popular by the way) in vlog form. You could say BeReal is a social media that aims to be anti-highlight reel, an antidote to FOMO, a place that shows every day, all your mates are doing the same things as you: laundry, looking at a screen, chopping vegetables, mainlining an iced coffee from Starbucks while a little vape sticks out like an aristocratic pinky stretches out from a glass of red wine. The initial success of the app showed that many people enjoy being able to take comfort in seeing their pals also slouched on their beds going gremlin mode while watching Selling Sunset for the ninth time there. It makes complete sense that this has veered over to video content too.
People are, on average… average. Being average, doing the medium. They are not always at another function, or party, or gig, or dinner, or holiday, or festival, or even walking down the street all sip sip look at me while oversharing in public. Social media was always a highlight reel to people older than 23. For those younger than this, social media is more of a document of life, something to document whatever and whenever you want to. And now, in a busy world where everyone has the same 24 hours in a day and nine side hustles, people are documenting the downtime too. For some, the downtime is, beige, neutral.
Cynically, you can say this creates content that is ‘boring’, but we all need restful downtime. Research shows that doing very little sometimes is necessary for productivity, attention, creativity, and even solidifying memories. Social media is showing balance. Some people socialise constantly, some do the opposite, many do a bit of both. Even fitness bros post stories of themselves spending hours gaming. That’s a good thing. If we zoom out a little, this is reflective of reality.
There’s a lot of people out there. Many people might actually like the calming properties of minimalism and beige-lifestyle. Uniform dressing could also be considered pretty beige but it helps a lot of people to feel good and calm about leaving their bedroom and entering the big wide world.
Of course, beige and grey and cream everything can get boring – colour is fun. Some of us want to see nothing but chaos and glamour. Some of us think others are sheepishly following a trend so that we don’t have to think for ourselves. And fine, there’s a case to say we should look to explore who we are, what our true colours are, as they say. But sometimes we do just want to be beige, and we do want to spend our time at home, being homely, tending to our plants away from all the scary people, looking through TikTok or Threads at the relatable content from our fellow introverted acquaintances.
Besides, there’s still plenty of chaotic and glamorous content from extroverted oversharers online: the internet is big enough for us all.
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