I called out an influencer once. I used to occasionally read her fashion blog because I liked her style and she was nice with the way she responded to comments.
In this instance though, she had a pretty, stylish photo of herself on IG and on the caption she recounts the accident she encountered on her vacation abroad. She was safe along with other tourists in the bus but the driver of a car that was also in the accident, according to her own words “unfortunately didn’t make it.” On her IG stories, she posted clips and described the accident, “This is insane!” 3 sad face emoticons.
There was nothing wrong with her relief. Of course you would be relieved and you would let your family know you were okay. I imagine one does that privately even as courtesy to the relatives of the man who passed. There were hundreds of comments praising God for her safety and several irrational ones (Pinoy superstitions about not going out or travelling prior to a big event). So what was wrong?
The problem was she made the accident and the person’s death a background to her story. It’s still about her and she used someone’s death to highlight her own experience. I’m sure it was unintentional and maybe with our exposure to the news or the regularity of deaths and accidents in the Philippines, we have become desensitized to these events.
Outside of the Philippines, many people follow certain etiquette when recording tragedies. They do not take pictures in front of a disaster area for social media’s sake. In other countries, they do not even mention details of suicide when transit is delayed. It is tactfully explained as a medical emergency- nothing graphic and they take steps towards preserving the person’s dignity.
I was disappointed that for someone educated, privileged, well-traveled and admired, she wasn’t very subtle on a delicate matter.
What’s more shocking is that out of the hundreds of comments only five mentioned the lack of sensitivity and what she could have done differently. Two were locals (of the country they vacationed), one of them knew the person and was shocked by this lack of sensitivity. So was I.
Who are we? Aren’t we just jealous haters? People are simply living their lives, showing it on social media and as viewers, we should be able to filter. I agree partially. We should be able to filter. Though I didn’t do it to troll her and I think neither did the others. After all, she was on our feed wasn’t she? We follow people like her and read her content (blog).
Our critical comments were few and may have been covered up by the number of more concerned followers but it shows that it only takes one person to point something that was off. It seemed useless but who knows if an impressionable teenager read that and started to be more critical? At least I hope so. Anyway she might have realized it herself too because I think she deleted the stories after a while and posted another photo with a caption more in the lines of life being precious and that she is grateful which is at least true and less of an intrusive and insensitive post compared to the previous one.
There’s that age old question which is more of a reproach than a question: Who are we to judge? I think the more important questions are:
How much responsibility and accountability should they (influencers) have?
How far should we follow them without question?
How should we filter what we see on social media?
When should we “let them be” and when should we “point something out”? And how do we do it without being hateful or even “judgmental”?
There’s a multitude of answers and maybe conflicting ones but this is a healthy conversation to have. Meanwhile at the time of this writing, WordPress still underlines the word influencer either as a misspelled word or one that doesn’t exist.