Existentialism After Influencing

Ariel Meadow Stallings
10 min readApr 17, 2023

The New York Times wrote another article about me, except it’s about someone else.

Photo of me circa 1998 from a Lotus Magazine article I wrote about the commodification of rave culture.

I got an email this weekend from an old-school blogging buddy in Germany, someone I cofounded a hula-hooping website with twenty years ago. She sent a link to this NYTimes article: Is There Life After Influencing?

As she said:

It made me think of you — 1) because you were the first person I knew who was “performing your life for content” (direct quote from the article), over 20 years ago when influencers were still stardust, and 2) because I know that you recently took a full-time job after many years of “influencing.” I don’t even know if you ever saw yourself as an influencer.

Her observations are legit! As someone who’s made my living creating personal content online for decades, who’s now working a day job for the first time since 2009… am I now experiencing life after influencing?

The answer is an absolute yes — but also not at all.

Let’s start with how I might seem like an influencer. Yes, I’ve been sharing my stories online since 2000. Yes, I’ve written three books, all of which contain at least some memoir. Yes, I supported myself full-time as a digital publisher for 15+ years.



Ariel Meadow Stallings

I'm a product manager at Medium, but I'm also a whole-ass person living my life: author, publisher, dancer, Seattleite, mom, and just a human humanning.