With being stuck inside, a lot of teens may notice they’re spending much more time on their phones and computers, using apps and websites such as Youtube, Instagram and TikTok. These platforms have spawned a lot of famous people, from already existing celebrities creating their own TikTok and Instagram accounts or from new influencers being found on Youtube and TikTok. These people have become bigger parts of our lives the more time we spend on these platforms, to the point that many students may find themselves spending more time scrolling through TikTok than they do talking to their family during quarantine. These influencers have put themselves into the limelight, and have a duty to spread a positive message to their -often young- audience. With so many influencers sharing how they are ignoring or disagree with the social distancing rules in place, it is scary to think their impressionable fans may follow.
It was a big deal when actress Vanessa Hudgens openly discussed on Instagram Live about how she was upset that Coachella was canceled because of Coronavirus. One of her more memorable quotes, “Yeah, people are gonna die, which is terrible, but like, inevitable,” being under fire about various talk shows and drama Youtube channels. Although it seems that the general population was upset about what Hudgens was implying, that her Coachella experience was more valuable than the possible lives that could be taken but such a gigantic gathering, there were so many people watching, some of which were likely die-hard Hudgens fans, that she likely planted this idea seed in some of her fans’ heads. If someone respects her opinion so much, which many fans do, they might adapt their own to agree with hers which can lead to more and more people ignoring quarantine.
What is even more upsetting than talking about ignoring social distancing, is ignoring social distancing. Youtuber Caiti’s Corner has almost 500 thousand youtube subscribers and has posted two videos now clearly showing her spending extended time with her boyfriend, sitting right next to each other and kissing during this pandemic. Her videos “surprising my boyfriend during quarantine… *not social distancing lol” and “spring break vlog 2020!! quarantine edition” have a combined 325 thousand views and are spreading the message that it’s ok to hang out in close proximity to someone you’re not quarantined with. These videos, in which she continually refers to herself as a “quaranteen” and complain about quarantine itself, are also spreading a message that even if you go see your boyfriend and make no attempt to stay a safe distance away, you’re still quarantined. This makes it seem completely ok to her young, teenage viewers, because she’s painting it as if she’s still following quarantine rules, which she is not.
Another Youtuber doing something similar to this is Jeffree Star. Jeffree Star has over 18 million subscribers on his youtube channel, and posted a video March 28, 2020 called “Updated House Tour! Being SINGLE and Quarantined” which currently has over 12 million views. Although this video may seem fine at first, he wears a face mask to go outside, he says he hasn’t left his house in a week and addresses the importance of the stay-at-home order, Star still is not quarantining himself despite claiming he is. He is being filmed by an outside videographer and has a professional makeup artist come to his house to do his makeup for the camera. Although he technically made no direct contact, he still could have easily prevented this by having his assistant who lives with him film it and doing his own makeup. He also got close to both of them throughout the video; making the mistake of falsely labeling himself as “in quarantine.”
Influencers need to be mindful of how their fan base can be affected by the decisions they make and publish to the entire world. Too many of them are spreading a terrible message that is the opposite of what we should be doing in these times.