The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word influencer as, “one who exerts influence : a person who inspires or guides the actions of others.” From TikTok to YouTube to Instagram, influencers consume our phone and computer screens more than we think. The title “influencer” is given to those who have created a large following on any social media platform and have an influence on what their followers may think, speak, buy, and much more.
As the COVID-19 pandemic surges specifically in Los Angeles County, we can’t help but ask the question “why?” The virus has been in the United States for almost a year now and just because we are over it, doesn’t mean the virus is over us. More and more social media influencers have been seen taking vacations, not practicing social distancing, or even throwing parties. As they are presenting this type of behavior towards their millions of followers, more and more people begin to follow their actions.
Senior Fiona Watts stated, “I feel like influencers have an impact worldwide, their responsibility is seen all over the county and the world. I think Los Angeles has become the epicenter of this pandemic due to our large population and many people’s unwillingness to sacrifice their social events.”
TikTokers Charli and Dixie D’Amelio, Noah Beck, Chase Hudson, and more took a trip to the Bahamas in early January. While it seems they tried to hide it by not posting pictures and videos, they were quickly spotted by fans and the news spread.
As soon as attention was brought to this, their fans were not happy. As Noah Beck defended the trip stating it was for their mental health and they took a private jet in order to be safe, this only created even more backlash. People are angry, saying they left a hotspot to take an unnecessary trip when thousands test positive for the virus every day. On January 1st, when these influencers were in the Bahamas, LA County alone had 20,414 new cases.
Every person is facing stress and difficulties during this time, no matter their job, but we all push through. Mental health is important, and it’s necessary we acknowledge that influencers do get a lot of hate, but that doesn’t excuse the carelessness these social media stars have in taking a tropical vacation at the height of the pandemic.
When asked whether they had fun or regretted their trip, Charli and Dixie D’amelio said “no response.”
This incident highlights the privilege these influencers have- being able to travel wherever they want during a pandemic without any attention to anyone else. Before the Bahamas incident, the influencers listed above and James Charles did collaboration videos together and hung out around Christmastime. This received a lot of backlash from fans. One comment on James Charles’ TikTok post received over 117,000 likes and said, “haven’t seen my mom in a year, spent Xmas alone but I’m so glad you got to travel to hang [out with] your friends and make money off everyone else being at home.” Another, with over 53,000 likes said, “Come on James! You guys can do better than this. My 10 year old daughter looks up to all of you. Please be a good example and show [how] to be responsible.”
This begs the question of, should these influencers, and many more like them, be cancelled for being so careless during these times? While many don’t agree with cancel culture and find it often does more harm than good, should they still be held accountable for their actions? How can we call out these influencers without spreading unnecessary hate, or do they deserve the negative responses to their actions?
In most cases, influencers who get cancelled become more popular than ever. They may not be liked by everyone or may receive a mass amount of hate, but they are still gaining tons of publicity. Every news outlet wants to cover the reason why their cancelled and more and more people hear their names everyday. Leaving hateful comments on influencers, such as Charli D’Amelio’s post like “#untalented” or “just give up at this point” not only creats a toxic social media environment, but puts them higher in TikTok’s algorithm.
All of these influencers are role models for the new generations, and while ordinary people like us have given them these platforms, they have taken advantage of them. Everyone’s mental health is bad right now, not only influencers. It is incredibly discouraging and disappointing that this new age of social media stars carries such careless, privileged role models, who don’t care for anyone else.