It is the 21st century, technology has progressed so much just within these 20 years and so has its importance. Majority of the people in the world have an easy access to internet, and everyone very heavily relies on it. Youth from the newer generation likely do not remember a time before they had internet, they practically grew up with it. Even folks among the older generations, who did not grow up with it could possibly not imagine going back to their life without the internet. There is almost no field of work that can run smoothly without at least some help of the internet, in fact some fields rely and exist completely on the internet and without it, they would cease to exist.
One very important part of the internet is the existence of social media. These are websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. Social media, although once made for the purpose of connecting friends and family through the internet for free, when they could not physically interact with each other, has now also become a platform of occupation for many people. It has become a place to promote businesses, building personal brands and just a source of money and fame for many people.
These people that get so famous online, become celebrities of some sort often within the boundaries of social media. A lot of people start following them based on their interests in the brand they are trying to build. They build up a huge base of people who are interested them and thus are birthed as social media stars or ‘influencers.’ These influencers come in all kind of forms, trying to do a lot of different things. They are called influencers because they have made such a name for themselves, that with their credibility and authenticity they can possibly influence a lot of their base to behave a certain way, make certain decisions, or buy certain products.
Now, needless to say that there are a lot of influencers that use the privilege of the platform that they have and try to give back to the world, they use their voice in a positive way, educate themselves and make equal efforts to help educating others. They become a positive influence on their followers.
However, with some good there is always lots of bad. This culture of influencers is often proved to be extremely toxic. It gives rise to certain standards, behaviors that are very harmful to the youth who can be easily manipulated with the content posted on the internet as their brain has not been properly developed yet. If they see someone who they love and follow do something, a lot of times instead of calling them out on it they tend to justify their actions and in turn, repeat the same in their personal lives.
Now these toxic actions are spread throughout a lot of different things. Let us take a look at a few examples:
Instagram models who have the perfect body, perfect skin and overall perfect looks, post millions of photos in flattering poses, which are more often than not edited to make them look like someone they are not in reality. A lot of their followers do not think about the fact that the pictures might be edited, and are indirectly made to believe that, they have to achieve a certain body type to be successful or look pretty, they end up setting such unrealistic standards for themselves that often turn out to be very unhealthy. This gives birth to a lot of racist ideals, and negative body imagery too.
Successful people on social media, who have a built an empire for themselves through the internet and have become extremely wealthy at a very young age can be inspiring for a lot of people but they can also bring out so many insecurities for people who haven’t become millionaires in their young adult years. Money making is not an objective thing, and everyone cannot follow the same path. They do not depict the whole reality at all.
Perhaps the best example of these toxic influencers are the ones that use their platform the sole purpose of spreading negative ideologies. These people always try to bring up their believes by bringing down others, threatening others. They make a lot of sexist, racist and homophobic comments, but are not called out for it. Instead, they are praised for it, which in turn tarnishes the young minds to believe that these things are correct and they grow up to be just as wrong as the influencers they followed.
This culture surely has to stop, we can not let people on the internet make us believe these things, we need to stop enabling them, stop justifying them, try to educate them if need be.