Influencer Decisions are Sickeningly Irresponsible

Marian Steinmann, Staff Writer

My family traditionally spends Christmas afternoon around the dinner table, feasting on smoked ham and cheesy potatoes, surrounded by our closest friends and family members. This year, I enjoyed my favorite holiday dishes alone in my room, quarantined due to exposure.

Much of America spent the holiday season in this way, and while some will claim we had no control over the situation, they aren’t entirely correct. This pandemic would be long over if not for the inconsiderate way many people treated the situation, including a group that has great influence over others: social media influencers.

TikTok rose in popularity during early quarantine, and its most popular performers reach an unprecedented number of viewers with their videos. Charli D’Amelio, 16, holds the app’s record with a following of over 100 million.

D’Amelio and her fellow TikTok stars have the unique opportunity to steer their admirers toward acting with responsibility and empathy. Instead, she and many others made a conscious decision to promote carelessness by disregarding quarantine guidelines and traveling overseas for the holidays.

In the middle of a global pandemic, with cases climbing by 200,000 every day, D’Amelio and seven other TikTok influencers traveled together to the Bahamas. By taking this trip, they not only risked their own safety by flying, but they endangered the millions of viewers who could follow their example.

The group attempted to keep the vacation a secret, further demonstrating their awareness that their decision was wrong.

Their Bahama getaway wasn’t the group’s first offence; they’ve gathered in groups of 10 to 15 for months, posting light hearted videos of quirky group dances while teaching their viewers that the deadly virus isn’t as serious as it seems.

Possibly the worst part of their reckless behavior is that every single one of them has the ability to work alone. TikTokers, Youtubers and any social media influencer can earn a hefty paycheck while staying home, meaning they are perfectly capable of social distancing and avoiding large groups.

Taking a few mask selfies and posting the occasional “stay safe” Instagram caption cannot make up for their actions. Many of these stars are still children, and while some may give them a pass for their youth, I believe anyone with that much power and influence needs to learn the widespread consequences their actions can have.

Had the government taken quicker action in March, perhaps we would have celebrated the holidays like New Zealand’s citizens who haven’t been in lockdown since June. The government officials responsible for the gross mishandling of the pandemic should be held accountable for their mistakes, but the remaining responsibility for the pandemic falls on the American people and those who hold influence over them.

March is a few short months away, and if celebrities and people in positions of power don’t start taking the pandemic seriously, Americans won’t either. Before we know it, we will have spent a whole year plagued by a disease that we could’ve defeated in a month.