A reality TV star is going viral after making the seemingly outlandish claim that being an online influencer is as difficult as performing surgery.
“It is a common misconception that influencers make millions of dollars by taking a few selfies,” Tor’i Brooks, who starred on MTV’s hit show “Ex on the Beach,” told Jam Press. “That couldn’t be further from the truth.”
The 30-year-old Michigan native became an influencer “as a byproduct” of a long and diverse career, which saw him do everything from modeling to marketing. Brooks is also a former athlete, who played basketball for the Harlem Globetrotters and currently hoops for Chris Brown’s team in Crew League.
However, Brooks got on social media early after seeing its earning potential back in 2012. He now regularly posts motivational content and sports clips to his Instagram and TikTok pages, where he collectively boasts nearly 90,000 followers.
The ex-baller, who resides in Los Angeles, claims that being an internet celebrity is actually far more intellectually taxing than people give it credit for.
“To constantly come up with content — especially when you are starting out and have little to no guidance — is incredibly difficult,” declared Brooks, who notably competed in the 2015 USA track and field championships. “So in terms of workload, quality and cognitive demand, I would put succeeding as an influencer up there with any academic pursuit including surgery.”
He added, “Some people might laugh at that but then they’ve never had to stand out from the crowd in an incredibly competitive marketplace.”
Brooks says he bases his outlook on the teachings of legendary Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, explaining: “You are the controller of your own destiny — it’s all in your mind.
“If your mindset is you want to quit and give up, then you’re probably going to quit and give up,” he added. “But if you’re determined, and you’re persistent enough, you can achieve any goal in your life.”
Brooks feels that influencers have gotten a bad name due to the plethora of online gurus who simply crave attention and cash.
“I feel like a lot of influencers are people who are just throwing darts at the wall — many don’t have a mission or know what they want to accomplish,” explained the athlete-cum-influencer. “They just want to be in the spotlight and make money.
“Their MO seems to be to capture the eyes of audiences so they can monetize whatever they are trying to sell,” added Brooks, who runs his own marketing brand, Bionic, which was coined after his nickname. He received the moniker while recovering from a devastating knee injury in college.
The social media guru finds the clickbait mentality particularly problematic given that a lot of the products they promote are “untested or unproven.” “They should be called up on this but social media can be hard to regulate, especially when you have people live streaming or constantly posting,” he lamented.
By contrast, Brooks says he’s “very socially responsible” and hopes to “pass on a bigger message to more people” than a traditional influencer would.
“For me, it is about being creative and positive, not just promoting products that can make me money,” he insisted. “I use social media to further my business in the realms of advertising and marketing and show people what I do day-to-day in sports and create content along the way.”
Brooks epitomized this “social responsibility” by launching a nonprofit called “Beyond an Athlete,” which aims to help student athletes achieve their goals while also preparing them for a career outside of athletics.
Brooks isn’t the first to make a controversial statement regarding the alleged rigors of internet celeb-dom.
A TikTok beauty guru came under fire in September after allegedly bellyaching the “insane” life of an influencer, which apparently includes such hardships as — gasp — clocking off at 5:19 p.m.