Maya Mitchell, Opinions Co-Editor
In the age of social media, Instagram, Youtube and Tiktok, “celebrities” are showing up left and right. With their newfound fame, many popular social media influencers get into scandals due to drama surrounding their personal lives. Thousands of videos, tweets and posts about relationships between TikTok stars, problematic actions of Youtubers, and photoshopped Instagram models have circulated the internet. With all of the media attention, the question remains: do people care about the dramatic lives of influencers, or do they have nothing better to do?
In the past, “celebrity status” was often given to people because of their success within their profession. Movie stars and musicians, whose work is usually distributed to the masses, accumulated “celebrity status” because of the popularity of their work and the media attention gained because of it. However, social media has created a new type of celebrity, influencers, and with this development, gaining internet clout has become a lot easier. People can “blow up” over the most random of things. Nowadays it is not uncommon for people to gain notoriety for things ranging from dancing to popular songs to popping watermelons with rubber bands.
“I think that in this generation everyone wants their five minutes of fame,” said Kyla Hector, ‘21. “The quicker people gain a mass following, the quicker they lose it because sometimes [the public] forget[s] these are just regular everyday people.”
Traditional celebrities and social media influencers have one huge difference: their privacy. Youtubers and Tiktokers often try to maintain relevance by giving fans a huge window into their lives, unlike traditional celebrities whose personal lives can be more private. For example, David Dobrik rose to fame because of his short, but eventful, 4-minute 20-second vlogs of the lives of his friends. New-age social media influencers post videos giving fans an insight into their homes and personal relationships, hoping it keeps people interested in their lives and that it will keep them relevant. For traditional celebrities, paparazzi and tabloids can speculate, but they can still maintain their fame on their work alone.
Social media influencers are not without their form of paparazzi. Drama channels and “tea” pages are the influencer equivalents of tabloid magazines and Perez Hilton. Amongst the most popular is “@tiktokroom”, an Instagram account dedicated to TikTok drama that has accumulated over 2 million followers. Accounts like these are a constant flow of information regarding romantic relationships, business partnerships, and iconic moments of social media influencers. Influencers often interact with these pages – commenting on posts to clear up rumors about themselves or to thank them for posting about their accomplishments – boosting their popularity in the process.
Learning about social media drama does not just come from actively engaging with drama accounts, but just passive engagement with social media platforms in general. Algorithms on Twitter, TikTok and Instagram can put content made about social media drama in the face of users who aren’t actively seeking it out.
“I would be [scrolling through TikTok] and some videos about the current Tiktok drama would show up,” stated Meskie Hyman, ‘22. “I used to follow Instagram pages like Worldstar but I’ve never routinely checked drama pages, the drama I hear is usually through the grapevine and from the conversation.”
Influencer drama has become an important part of popular culture, but its effect outside of the internet can range from insufficient to career-ending. Depending on the severity of the drama, the influencers involved could lose their credibility with their fans, eligibility for paid sponsorships, and even the respect of their peers. For example, popular influencer James Charles was recently accused of illegally soliciting minors, and as a result, lost his multi-million dollar sponsorship with the makeup brand Morphe.
But the public, as spectators, usually follows the drama through social media, even though it has no personal impact on their lives. So why all of the interest? Why does “#___isover” end up trending on Twitter every time a social media celebrity screws up? “I don’t think people really care [about influencer drama], maybe it can be exciting, especially if it’s really scandalous,” Hyman commented. “I think that it’s more of a quick escape of reality and it doesn’t influence the direction of anyone’s life so it’s not important at all, it’s just entertaining sometimes.”
Nevertheless, people can not seem to stay away from the drama. The @tiktokroom Instagram account has gained over 1.5 million followers since March 2020 and popular drama Youtube channels like “Spill Sesh” and “Tea Spill” have gained hundreds of thousands of subscribers off of commenting on the scandals of internet influencers. Internet drama might seem unimportant, but it most definitely has a magnetic appeal to it.
Design by: Jack Kalsched