ust three months ago, Astra Starr was living like any other virtual influencer: she posted her outfits, participated in brand campaigns, and shared her opinions on pop culture moments, like “Squid Games.” But all that changed in February when the Russian army began to invade her hometown of Kyiv, Ukraine.
While virtual influencers like Astra may live in the digital world, her followers are very much human, with many even living in Ukraine as well. To ignore her country’s war-torn reality and continue to post normally would be inauthentic to Astra’s life.
In a new series of posts, “War Diaries," Astra shares her first-person perspective of living in an active war zone. She has written a diary entry 54 days in a row, showing followers around the globe the realities of Ukraine. This has included posting from her bathtub — the safest place in her apartment during bombings.
As a virtual being, Astra is not physically in danger, of course. But that doesn’t mean she can’t use her online platform to impact the real world. Currently, Astra is running a campaign to donate 50 hryvnias or $1.70 USD to the renowned “Come Back Alive” fund each time someone re-posts her content or uses her AR lens. The Come Back Alive fund is the biggest organization which donates directly to the Ukrainian defense forces.
Astra’s creator, FFFACE.ME, a Ukrainian studio specializing in AR Lens creations, explained the reason behind Astra’s ‘War Diaries’ series: "Today, not all representatives of Generation Z read classic news, so we decided to tell them about the War in Ukraine in a format that is relevant to them – with the help of a virtual influencer.”
I reached out to Astra to learn more about her involvement in the fundraiser, and how she feels about helping out.
“I was worried that when my subscribers saw how I looked during the war, how worried and afraid I was, they might unfollow me,” Astra told me. “Exactly the opposite happened. I got a lot of support, which once again proved that sincerity is important in the life of a virtual influencer.”
“Society often perceives virtual influencers as pure entertainment and glossy CGI. But they can be leaders of change: raise important social issues and help financially. My goal is to prove that. I want to spread awareness about the war in Ukraine and help financially.”
Sincerity is important in the life of a virtual influencer.
Virtual influencers may lead virtual lives, but they’re as connected to the real world as any other influencer who posts online—and they can have the same impact.