We are now in 2021 and the word “influencer” does not sound unfamiliar anymore. The term is now fully integrated into our every-day vocabulary, with older generations understanding it, too. Society is getting more acquainted with it being an actual paying job, and they are no longer seen as a mere meteor. They are paid to promote or sponsor a product and, as a matter of fact, they are breathing advertisements and the more they are followed, the more brands would like to plan a collaboration. Nevertheless, for a considerable amount of time, they have been considered only for the number of their followers, how expensive their outfits were or if they have or have not been dating that VIP.
Recently, we are facing a slight change in their role in our communities: they do not only influence our next purchase, but they also started to speak up their minds on social and/or political issues. This, of course, comes with advantages and disadvantages.
Let’s analyse the advantages.
There are many advantages, for both parties. Firstly, influencers are now seen as thinking-beings and not just as mannequins. Chiara Ferragni or Nicole Rossi have become a powerful voice when it comes to advocate for women’s rights, or when LGBTQ+ communities face threats. Moreover, by being followed by so many, their preachments reach a huge number of people, especially teenagers and young kids that can benefit from positive role models to whom they can look up to. Within the fifteen seconds of an Instagram story, messages of empowerment and tolerance spread quicker than a lightning.
But, as in every field of life, for as many advantages that there can be, we must also deal with a certain number of negatives. The first negative aspect must be that, by deciding to expose themselves on such delicate issues and by being under the spotlight of so many users, criticisms cannot be avoided. I am not referring to polite or constructive critics, on the contrary I am talking about cyberbullying, death threats, insults and body shaming: the list could be endless. It is clear by now that the Internet can be a very dangerous place, and when people use it as an outlet, the situation can become unbearable. Internauts are not afraid to projectile vomit their hate on famous people as they feel untouchable, but do not realize that behind the other screen there is a human being with feelings.
Secondly, being an influencer does not always go together with being a positive role model. There are plenty of people with considerable amounts of followers who use social media with great irresponsibility, like the recent Italian case of Damiano Er Faina (1.1 million of followers on Instagram), who subtly justified catcalling in a series of stories he posted. Alternatively, in these difficult times, influencers who post about their holidays in luxury destinations while the rest of the population is forced at home. The rule of the quick spreading of the preachments – sadly – applies in these cases as well, encouraging younger generation to be disrespectful towards diversities of all kinds.
Influencers have a huge responsibility and their fame and notoriety are a very powerful weapon, which can do beautiful things but, if used in the opposite way, could create a dangerous environment or cause irreparable damages.
The Internet is a battlefield, and it does not matter how popular one is, respect and kindness should be mandatory for everyone.
Articolo a cura di: Victoria Pevere