Dr Mumbo

Are ‘virtual influencers’ going to snatch the selfie crown from their human counterparts?

Fake. Fraudulent. Fickle. Frivolous. These are just some of the F-words thrown at influencers. There are others too, but Dr Mumbo is too polite to utter them.

But actually, it is all very unfair in Dr M’s view. And the latest incarnation – a virtual influencer in the form of of Laila Blue (known as Chasing Laila on Instagram) – is in no way a low point for the millennial-engaging medium.

Here she is modelling Fendi in Dubai. Well sort of, the virtual Dubai.

She describes herself as a half-French, half-Lebanese 25-year-old who studied motion graphics at a United Arab Emirates university.

A story in the Gulf News even quotes Laila as saying: “I’m just the same as any other avatar. My designer’s aim might be completely different from mine but I can tell you that I’ve been programmed to spread positive, meaningful messages, have fun, make people question things, wear some cool clothes and make some cool art.

“Some days I feel like a puppet, other days I’m super intrigued for what the future holds for me. I know I have an upgrade coming up soon, too, so that’s exciting.”

It doesn’t end there.

Laila’s designer, who apparently wants to remain anonymous, adds: “I dream of a world where virtual and human influencers can happily coexist, side-by-side. There’s space for all of us.

“Laila is the product of a time when the lines between authenticity and virtual reality, Facetune and fiction are being increasingly blurred and held up for questioning.

“She is undoubtedly polarising, and both an exercise in creativity and a comment on the hyper-real, ultra-curated age we live in.

“Most importantly, however, her existence is designed to spread positive messages and spark meaningful conversations — two things that social media should be responsible for encouraging.”

Yes, ‘meaningful’ is definitely the right word – not ‘meaningless’. Not ever.


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