Photograph: BOCCA® BAROCCA – Performance for Gufram on the 50th anniversary of the BOCCA® sofa, with Elena Rivoltini, directed by Fabio Cherstich.

Caption ContestOn influencer speak.

Caption ContestOn influencer speak.

  • Words Hettie O’Brien

There is a style of language that is increasingly common on social media. Most often it takes the form of an extended caption disclosing some personal experience or asking banal questions that invite others to respond: Who else hates Mondays? What are you grateful for today? What’s on your obsession list at the moment? Because this style of caption invites likes and replies, it presumes an audience is present, but it’s not always clear who the intended audience is—particularly when the poster isn’t a blue-ticked public figure, but a friend or acquaintance.

This conversational style first emerged among influencers, whose very “influence” stems from the active community their profiles attract. Even while influencers may hawk housewares, bath products or baby clothes, they are ...

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