The impact of social media influencers

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The impact of social media influencers

Eve Mihaila

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At the beginning of 2018, Logan Paul, a very well known YouTube star, posted a video where he found a man who had killed himself in the Aokigahara Suicide Forest in Japan. In the video, Logan and a few of his friends proceeded to laugh at the body while it was hanging from a tree. Instead of immediately calling the police, like someone who had a sense of respect, he took the time to film the corpse and later uploaded it to YouTube, where millions of people would see it, including children. He didn’t think about the fact that this video he posted was how those close to the victim learned he was dead. It is situations like these that make us reflect on who should be influencing the public, especially the younger population.

In our day and age, we do not get the majority of our information from newspapers and television; it comes from social media. This is important to keep in mind because anybody can easily log onto their accounts and post something that may warp the views of others, whether it be positive or negative. With the accessibility of the internet, the ability for people to communicate their ideas with each other has become incredibly easy. Your chances of getting heard on the internet are much larger than they were in the past, when in order to have a voice you would have to be somebody with a label, such as a journalist, author, politician, etc. This is amazing because different kinds of people can share ideas and communicate with others across the world.

However, as great as it is, things spread like wildfire online, such as Logan Paul’s video. It is important to know that these internet content creators, who have gained a lot of fame, have also gained a lot of trust from large populations, which mainly consist of children. YouTube stars have an audience of millions of young people, who believe that they know the person that they are watching like they are a close friend. When those social media influencers make videos – such as the one that Logan made – the millions of children watching think that these people’s actions are acceptable. “The children watching YouTubers often forget that they usually are doing it for the money and that they couldn’t care less about their viewers,” said Beth Wei, a BSS student. “I just don’t understand why there isn’t a tighter control on who can influence millions of children.”

That leads me to the last point: a solution. We are well aware that there will always be people who make unwise decisions, however, it is very important that those actions made are not broadcasted and shared so that everyone can see, because then that mistake may be viewed as acceptable by those who trust and watch the creator constantly. Or even worse, they may repeat those very actions. In order to prevent this, there should be larger restrictions on creators after they reach a certain point of popularity. If a creator has done something that harmed someone in some way, such as humiliating a victim of suicide, there should be consequences from the website or network that the creator uses so that content isn’t created again. It’s a step that YouTube has forgotten to do, and maybe there will be other YouTubers who will find dead bodies and decide to upload images of it. If there’s anything that we should learn from this, it is that it is amazing to have people express their opinions and do things for good, yet there is always greed lurking around the corner. This causes someone who may seem trustable online to do something that their audience would deem as acceptable.