Opinion | Changing the direction of social media


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We need to change the way we talk about influencers on social media.

Did you hear that University of Oregon basketball star Sedona Prince and Rylee LeGlue have split? Because I sure did.

Ironically, I don’t know Prince or her partner and I don’t follow Oregon basketball.

However, online gossip about influential creators is nothing new. Social media tends to showcase influencers’ lives to the public—even the parts that aren’t suitable for a post.

Since the rise of platforms like YouTube, Instagram and TikTok, a new generation of voices has taken over social media feeds. Such voices are commonly known as “influencers”. An influencer is defined as a person or group that influences or changes the way other people behave.

Influencers are not just a social phenomenon; they represent a growing industry. The influencer marketing industry is expected to grow to approximately $16.4 billion by 2022.

But for many social media influencers, their marketing work compensates for their daily lives. To keep accounts trending and popular, most influencers photograph and vlog their lives to the platform’s billions of users.

Followers tend to forget that influencers are often on social media for a living. Influencers are not just content creators, they are marketers, promoters and people looking for a living. Yet too often we look up to influencers on a pedestal of fame.

While celebrities and public figures have always been the subject of tabloid media and public gossip, this new generation has online social platforms that praise or criticize the lives of prominent users. Tweets, TikToks, and other social media posts often encourage users to engage in digital gossip around influencers.

Since the inception of social media, people have given up some privacy in order to stay connected with other users of the platform. However, influencers seem to have sacrificed their privacy and personal lives to stay on your feed.

I know I value my privacy and wouldn’t appreciate people discussing things in my personal life – I think we can all attest to that.

So maybe it seems like fair game to get involved in influencers’ personal lives because they’ve chosen this so-called lifestyle. However, privacy is a human right and personal matters that an individual does not wish to share publicly should be kept private.

Social media platforms often explode when there is an influencer scandal, breakup, or fight. These matters should not be promoted or highlighted on the platforms if the individual wishes to maintain privacy.

Still, I think there’s always a certain amount of curiosity about the lives of influencers, celebrities, and public figures. Especially when these rich lives are not what they seem.

As long as society holds certain individuals above others, it seems people will always be interested in an elitist lifestyle.

So should influencers have personal privacy? They definitely should. But if there is a model like an influencer, their lives can always be of interest to the public, even the parts that are personal.

Now this may not seem like a big deal. Personally, I can’t say that this is an important issue for everyone. But I believe this is a matter worth discussing.

Social media has many great qualities and I like to think that it does more good than harm. But arbitrary comments about individuals’ personal lives are a negative use of the platform. Social media should be about connecting individuals, sharing stories and amplifying your voice. Using social media to humiliate someone else goes against what the platforms are supposed to do.

Columns reflect the views of the authors and are not necessarily those of the editorial board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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