While the whole world is practically shut down and everyone’s lives have been put on hold for months on end, influencers are still out and about continuing their normal lives without a care in the world. As if quarantining in their mansion-sized homes wasn’t enough, everyone from Tik Tokers to Instagram models to YouTubers have been partying, vacationing, and gathering in large groups while thousands of Americans are on ventilators, fighting for their lives. All the while, they’ve been blatantly ignoring mandatory protocols of social distancing, self-quarantining, and mask wearing.
We all know the power of social media and the impact it can have on not only the youth, but quite frankly, the entire world. Advocacy for petition signing, the importance of voting, and raising awareness about different humanitarian issues have all been made possible through social media. Yet, there are influencers who have been posting maskless photos, videos of parties, and meet-ups with friends, further proving the abundant amount of privilege they have. In March when the pandemic only started to have a significant presence in the US and people were pushed into quarantine, influencers were already getting on peoples’ nerves, complaining that their work will be affected when there were literally millions of Americans being laid off work. Influencers-although dependent on content-can easily film indoors or have at-home photoshoots to work around the much-needed restrictions. Instead, they decided to ditch the reality of the pandemic and have social lives, putting everyone at risk, especially in LA when it was once a hot spot for the virus.
They have been throwing extravagant house parties to a point where the mayor had to threaten their water and utilities be turned off for them to end-and even then they didn’t stop. There have been countless parties held by California influencers some of which being Bryce Hall’s 21st birthday and Larray’s 22nd, and of course, some were just held since influencers got sick of quarantine. At one event, Youtubers Tana Mongeau and Erika Costell filmed themselves saying, “Listen, we don’t <expletive> care…” in a crowd of unmasked attendees. While they rode it off saying it was in reference to past drama, the video wasn’t received well as people thought it was talking about the coronavirus pandemic. Some of these party-going influencers have spoken otherwise about them on social media, writing that it's irresponsible to be partying and that everybody should wear their masks, to which they didn’t take their own advice. Elijah Daniel, an LA artist, has been calling out influencers on their problematic behavior left and right. On his Twitter he shared, “...a lot of influencers have been confirmed to me testing positive for COVID-19 after the influencer parties...and aren’t warning people they came in contact with after” which obviously prompts as a cause for concern. Tyler Oakley, being an LA-based influencer himself, has been calling out big names Nikita Dragun, Charlie D’amelio, and Larray as well.
When influencers aren’t spending their time in groups or partying in LA, they've been escaping the stress of the given climate by taking lavish vacations, which is yet another insensitive thing to do when there are plenty of Americans who are genuinely suffering both mentally and financially right now. While some crossed state lines, others took it to another extreme by leaving the US entirely. Vacations both big and small are obviously not advised during this time with US cases spiking constantly and the fact that people can be carriers of the virus both ways. James Charles recently got dragged for taking a vacation to Hawaii along with Jc Caylen for taking one to Florida with a large group of friends, Adelaine Morin taking one to Greece with Mai Pham, etc. and the list unfortunately goes on. Rather than take accountability for what they’ve done, these influencers have been either deleting comments or turning them off entirely on posts related to their vacationing. Even though areas are easing up on travel bans and states are being taken off of mandatory quarantine lists, with people coming and going, their cases are rising again, causing them to close down once more and inevitably, prolonging the duration of this pandemic.
To make matters worse, these influencers have been directly profiting off of the pandemic. James Charles and Jc Caylen, for example, have been selling face masks and profiting heavily off these sales only to step out to a party or vacation later without one on. Some who have been going to parties also have underlying health conditions which makes them high-risk for getting coronavirus. Tana Mongeau, for one, has asthma, but is seen time and time again at parties without a mask on and sometimes, even smoking, only adding to her negative influence. As always, these influencers issued lackluster apologies after they were caught, writing that what they did was irresponsible, but only seem to repeat their mistakes once the cameras are off.
What's arguably the most frightening aspect of it all: influencers’ social media are going dark after they get called out. Their partying tendencies haven’t changed at all, but they stopped posting about them out of fear that they'll get cancelled again. They are still adding to coronavirus case numbers and the larger issue at hand, regardless of their posting. What started out as a flex of rebellion has now turned into a trend of secrecy. Even though the average person has missed out on birthday celebrations, traditional graduations, and day-to-day memory making, influencers just simply couldn’t handle missing out on one Halloween. They got dressed up, continuing to party and ignore guidelines, but made it seem on their pages as if they were sitting home, bored like the rest of us. While some have been praising this since they are no longer negatively influencing people to go out, others have seen it to be just as problematic since they are acting recklessly and have shown no genuine growth from their previous mistakes-a mistake that mind you, could’ve very well cost someone’s life. At Kendall Jenner’s Halloween party, for example, she requested that no guests posted about it so none of the blame would be placed on her. Word still got out and people are now thinking as bad as it is to show on camera, at least influencers should document what they are doing so we can call them out on it. If everything’s kept a secret, we are only fooling ourselves into believing that things are getting better when they aren’t. Despite reaching fame and having millions of subscribers, luxury cars, and designer clothing to show for it, some people will just simply never be responsible enough to have a platform.