The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The dark side of teenage influencer idolization

Influencers+can+set+unrealistic+beauty+standards+and+preconceived+notions+of+what+ones+life+is+supposed+to+look+like.+
Photo courtesy of @thehypehousela on Instagram
Influencers can set unrealistic beauty standards and preconceived notions of what one’s life is supposed to look like.

In the age of social media, it is now easier than ever to “jump on the bandwagon” on whoever and whatever is trending. With just a short viral picture or video, influencers can gain an instant, strong hold over social media users like no other. As a result, many people who come across an influencer’s page unwittingly become infatuated with their character and content.

Influencers are people who have a large and engaged social media following on apps like Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. What sets them apart from celebrities is that they are seen as more relatable and tend to foster closer relationships and connections with their audience. In fact, according to the Digital Marketing Institute, 70% of teens trust influencers more than traditional celebrities, showing how much of an impact an influencer has on the opinions, behaviors and purchases of their young audiences. That is why the youth should constantly ask themselves who they idolize and for what reasons.

Although influencers are loved for the authentic content of their daily lives, not everything is as it seems. Quite frankly, it is often the opposite. Viewers only see the side of influencers that they want people to see, so most of the negative, neutral and flat-out boring aspects of their lives are largely hidden. Seeing this ingenuine version portrayed on social media sets unrealistic ideas of beauty standards, body image and how one’s life should look. In the long run, this constant comparison and envy of influencers can lead to low self-esteem and damage one’s mental health, especially for younger audiences.

Additionally, influencers persuade their audience to spend money on unnecessary products. Influencers are essentially businesses, as they make money from accumulating views on content and retaining followers. They often use their platform to collaborate with brands by sharing their experiences and promoting products on their account. According to Statista, approximately 78.6% of U.S. marketers were projected to leverage influencers for marketing endeavors in 2023. When followers see an influencer raving about a trendy article of clothing or beauty product, the connection and trust built between them and their audience makes people want to buy it. This clever marketing tactic sways people to give in and buy things that are not worth it to fit in and be like the influencer and their other followers.

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Many social media users get so swept up in influencers and their lives that they neglect their own. A 2022 survey by Morning Consult found that 54% of Generation Z spend at least four hours daily on social media, and 38% spend even more time than that. Followers get caught up in this fake reality by mindlessly scrolling through influencer content and vicariously living through videos of their daily routines and drama. In turn, they do not notice important things in their own life and consequently miss out on opportunities, building relationships and enjoying life.

According to Forbes, 1 in 4 of every younger generation is looking to become an influencer. Additionally, influencers are not perfect, and unfortunately many partake in unacceptable behavior like racism and cyberbullying. Love for an influencer can cloud people’s judgment and shift their morals to justify an influencer’s behavior instead of holding them accountable. It is especially dangerous for younger generations, who view these influencers as role models and can be easily swayed to think these behaviors are acceptable and encouraged to partake in them.

Although influencers have no intention to harm their audience and often use their platform to promote positivity and provide entertainment, they have no control over how their followers think and interpret their content and can still unintentionally hurt their audience.

To minimize this, social media users must be self-aware and consciously consume content when they are on social media platforms to not get too attached to influencers. Specifically, WCHS students should follow a variety of content, instead of just hyper-focusing on influencers. They can also take breaks from scrolling on social media once in a while to appreciate what is in front of them.

Overall, one must draw a fine line between liking influencers and idolizing them. People need to keep in mind that these influencers are not actually in their lives and are essentially just a form of entertainment. Although it can be tempting to get wrapped up in the idea of filters and lavish lifestyles, social media users must maintain a critical perspective and remember that curated content often presents an idealized version of reality.

 

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About the Contributor
Kalena Yee, Features Editor
Kalena Yee is a senior at WCHS and a Features Editor for the 2023-2024 school year. This is her third year taking journalism. When she’s not writing for the Observer, Kalena enjoys drawing, dancing, baking, collecting stationery, and exploring cafes with her friends.

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