By Indigo Jones
With influencer culture growing and their constant need for engagement with their followers, where do we draw the line between influencing and pressuring? This question is something we must ask ourselves as social media continuously takes over the lives of many, and influencer culture becomes more prominent in everyday life.
Influencers use what they call ‘Clout’ to inspire their followers to buy from certain brands or to use certain products and more recently to raise money for their own benefit. One twitter user from Scotland with a rather large following a tweet stating that if each follower sent them £1 they would have more than enough money to have their gender reassignment surgery.
Although, these donations would go towards a good cause, how do we justify what truly makes a good cause, and where do we draw the line when it comes to what is acceptable to ask followers for money.
Some may argue that the person in question could find their own way to raise money -perhaps through fundraisers, for example. Due to these large followings of thousands of people sending money to these influencers, it could be considered an easy way out of raising the money themselves. Private cosmetic surgeries are rather expensive; therefore, an influencer would have to raise thousands of pounds through their followers to gain enough money to go ahead with the procedures, something that those without a social media following would find hard to do.
Something else we must consider is the fact that there are people across the UK who lack the needed funds for certain surgeries, which makes donating to those with large platforms appear more problematic. Certain members of the population get the necessary funding because they are more apparent on social media, or perhaps their followers find them funnier or more attractive than others.
A new trend with some Instagram influencers as well as Reality TV stars is receiving free clothes and products to advertise for companies, then selling them to followers/fans on resell sites such as eBay and Depop. Although some of these ‘Internet Celebrities’ donate the profits to charity, most do not and therefore are gaining profit from using their influence to sell products they didn’t pay for in the first place.
On the app Tik Tok, where ‘Tik Tokkers’ upload 15-second videos of themselves singing, dancing or lip-synching to videos, viewers are able to pay money to send their favourite influencers stickers. The influencers encourage their young viewership to send them more expensive stickers, thus using their power over their followers in the process.
This idea of those with large social media followings influencing not only their followers, but young followers who aren’t fully aware that they are sending money to strangers is a scary thought. It definitely makes us consider the fact that we should give online influencers less power and control over us as social media users.