Followers of influencers on social media have a responsibility to speak out against hypocrisy and prejudice.

Lorenzo Zottoli, Staff Writer

The days of young children only looking up to their parents may be a thing of the past thanks to various forms of social media influencers. Influencers have taken over popular online media platforms, such as YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat, in recent years. Most influencers range from as young as 10to as old as 70, allowing for a broad range of content. Most popular influencers have a following of young tweens who look up to them. The vast majority of influencers promote safe, efficient, and reliable information for their young following to learn about, but that’s not always the case.

The good news is that, for the majority of young children, influencers are a positive part of their every day lives. They help to educate young kids on the importance of social issues, climate change, and politics.

Dom, an 8th grader at Mars Middle School, spoke out about how their favorite influencer, Sienna Gomez, helped them learn about climate change.

“I never knew about climate change or what it was until recently,” they said. “I saw Sienna Gomez post a TikTok talking about Antarctic Oil Drilling that was going to kill off some of the wildlife. After seeing that, I signed a petition going around to help, but without her speaking out about it to me and her other followers I would have never learned about it.”

TikToker Sienna Gomez (Sienna Gomez)

While there is a lot of good to go around, some influencers have recently been caught not practicing what they so strongly preach to their followers. After one of the most followed influencers was caught recently traveling to the Bahamas after for months telling people to stay inside and social distance, followers were not happy.

“My younger brother has been trying to go out and see all of his friends again after seeing his favorite TikTokers going out again,” said Tori, an 11th graders at Mars. “It’s frustrating for me to have to explain to him that they are in the wrong after he has been looking up to them for the longest time.”

So what happens when influencers get caught lying to their audience and being hypocritical? Often they will lose a lot of followers from the incident, or if worse comes to worst, face being “canceled.”

Cancel culture is a modern form of ostracism where an incident causes a rapid decline in followers. This results in influencers having to always uphold a positive attitude and stay on top of current events to educate their followers.

Although being canceled may seem harsh, it is done to speak out against unsafe, racist, or any inappropriate behavior that could rub off negatively on younger kids.

“One of my favorite YouTubers used to be Shane Dawson, but after old videos of him resurfaced of him doing blackface, I unfollowed him and chose to unsubscribe from his YouTube channel,” said Allison Lyon, a NASH junior. “I just didn’t like what he stood for anymore.”

Instances such as this aim to get rid of any toxicity on a social media platform a creator may be putting out.

With each new social media app that gets released comes a brand new wave of content creators and influencers. The lucky few who gain a following now have an opportunity to speak out on issues going on throughout the world. It is their choice to speak out, but it is their followers’ choice to stick with them and learn from what they preach.