What Do We Make of Influencers?

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.


7 thoughts on “What Do We Make of Influencers?

  1. That’s the thing when they start treating the online space like their living room and the public, family. They have to be open to being criticized on their platforms and to some extent, being “influenced” themselves. It’s good though, when followers call out (it’s a matter of manners though, both ways).

  2. Naku mamsh, yan din lagi ang problema ko sa mga influencers na yan. Minsan kasi since trabaho na nila ang naiisip na lang nila talaga is views. Madami pa ako gusto sabihin pero that’s for another time 😛

    • Ay momsh naaliw nga ako basahin yung mga sinusulat mo about influencers. Kaya excited ako sa mga sasabihin mo pa. I will stay tuned. Haha.

  3. I think it’s definitely acceptable to criticise an online influencer, but I’d send a direct message rather than make a public negative remark; just my style! In addition, in my opinion, grammar policing is just rude and people should be free to write English in whatever way they please.

    • Thank you Mart for bringing up that there is that option. Admittedly, sometimes some of us choose to bring it up for the public to consider. Your style is certainly a nicer way and it’s encouraging that this is an ongoing conversation with valuable insights coming from bloggers etc. I agree on what you said about grammar policing especially when it’s a personal blog. News sites and educational sites may be held to higher standards but they have training and checks for that. It’s ironic because sometimes we can even be so self-critical with grammar when English is our second language.

  4. Rae says:

    I follow a few influencers but I guess I don’t feel as strongly about them because they’re mostly irrelevant or unrelatable to me (probably because I’m older? Xennials reprezent! Haha!). But now I’m realizing that they are literally *influencing* culture and you raise very good questions. If some form of social responsibility is demanded from influencers, and we call their attention about it, to what extent will it contribute to call-out and cancel culture? Right now, I just unfollow/unsubscribe silently (kind of like, voting with my engagement).

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