Every day we see news headlines giving insight on another developing war or how climate change is going to jeopardize our already fragile futures, all while we try to keep track of our classes. Living in such a tense time has led us to look to consistent stress relief like social media and the celebrities and influencers that make these platforms what they are today. These people become such a big part of our life, but they rarely empathize with the people who support them most.
According to Statistica, over half of the users on social media actively follow celebrities such as musicians, actors or influencers and tend to depend on them in some way. Whether you followed them for fashion inspiration or to keep up with your favorite sports team, we create expectations for people we do not even know.
The more we indulge in influencer and celebrity content, it is harder to establish our boundaries with these people and realize how little we really know about them. When I was young, I would spend hours watching Youtuber and every time one of them gets cancelled now I’m not even surprised.
Through social media we can see strangers express the most intimate sides of themselves. Internet stars like Charli D’Amelio or the Kardashians have camera crews following their every move and we begin to feel like we understand them when in reality we never will, and they won’t be able to understand us either.
In recent years, we are beginning to see a shift in audience perception I feel has not been seen until our generation began to mature a bit more.
In the early 2000’s we would rarely see famous people being held accountable. Individuals such as Shane Dawson would post offensive content online and no one realized the extent of his “jokes” until nearly a decade later, but now celebrities can see an immediate response from their audience, and we get to see how they act under this pressure.
Within the past week we have seen celebrity and influencer support fluctuating due to the war crimes seen between Israel and Palestine. We have seen people of status sharing their opinion on a brutal conflict that has spanned nearly a century.
Celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Kylie Jenner faced intense backlash after both shared to their Instagram stories a Pro-Israel stance. Bieber promoted an image of Gaza ruin with the words “Praying for Israel” across the image even though the damage in the image was created by the Israeli movement. Likewise, Jenner sharedshe would be standing with Israel, but shortly deleted the post after about an hour when she lost one million followers.
These are just two examples of celebrities using their platforms in a way that is uninformed and millions of people were there to witness it. The lives we live are so vastly different; I’m not sure these influencers will ever understand why the way they use their platforms matters.
Throughout the pandemic there were multiple instances where celebrities were expected to act. Their audiences wanted to know where they stood on certain issues such as the COVID vaccines, Black Lives Matter and the never-ending political debates. But one thing I will never forget was toward the beginning of lockdown: Gal Gadot and friends singing “Imagine.”
In a two-minute video the Superwoman actress and 24 of Hollywood’s richest collaborated on an out of key rendition of “Imagine” by John Lennon in hopes of inspiring the viewers to stay strong as we entered what we know now as the COVID-19 pandemic. The video spread like wildfire and today we still see people mocking the post in the comments.
The video was posted on to Instagram March 18, 2020, about a week into lockdown. Many of us remember the first few weeks of lockdown as hectic and scary. People were fighting for necessities like food and water, while individuals with status were making videos from their luxury homes.
As someone who has admittedly admired a few celebrities, it shocks me to see how dense some people with status can truly be. I have found myself applauding stars I liked for bringing awareness to certain causes or donating money, but really all they were doing is being a decent human being.
In The New Reality Check Report done by PYMNTS the group shared approximately two-thirds of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and often struggle with paying for their monthly bills if they live alone, yet I feel these people who struggle the most are the most giving.
We constantly see in the news our government is trying to stop the United States from going into a recession and students are struggling to afford their rent, tuition and living expenses, so why are celebrities expecting their supporters to donate money to causes they claim to be passionate about?
The most recent example of this was during the crisis that took place in Maui recently, Oprah Winfrey and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who collectively have a net worth of over $3 billion created a fund called “The People’s Fund of Maui” to help the victims affected by this tragedy. People from all over the world debated on the intentions of both Winfrey and Johnson because in the original post the two celebrities do not mention how they would be contributing to this fund and were asking for “whatever support you can give.”
In the comments of the original post the viewers had vastly different perspectives. Some applauded Oprah and The Rock for using their platforms to bring attention to this cause, while others berated the pair for asking for donations when they have amounts of money people around the world can only dream of.
When it comes to money, we as an audience tend to have a loud response. Singer Olivia Rodrigo received criticism for her use of Charity Platinum, an option of tickets priced three times the normal ticket price without disclosing how much of the proceeds would be going to charity.
This is just one of the many examples of where celebrities and influencers have proven to their audience that they are out of touch with the lives of most of their supporters. I think often we look to these individuals to guide our thoughts because they are so successful, but time and time again we see celebrities pushing ignorance.
Many of us have grown up idolizing these figures, but when we consider situations such as these, I think it’s time we take a step back and address how easily they will wither under the weight of our expectations.