• Arwa Hanin Elrayess

The Age Of 'Online Influencers': How Much Is Too Much?

Updated: Feb 27, 2020

This generation has certainly become the golden age of ‘online influencers.’

Their sudden uprising took the world by storm, denounced our stereotypical perception of ‘success,’ and therefore, changed the way many of us will choose to live our lives.

Whether we care to admit it or not, these ‘influencers’ have become today’s most prominent ‘role models.’ Their actions are viewed as guides or examples, whilst their opinions are deemed as fact, regardless of their background, education or motives.

Some of the influencers we follow encourage noble causes and advertise important and meaningful messages. But in most cases, they are simply ordinary individuals who, by chance, shot to fame.

Yet, we, especially the youth, are still manipulated by their everyday actions, which, alone, is a cause for concern.

However, there are still many frequently overlooked, yet detrimental, issues that could change our lives forever.

Occupying the spotlight:

Less than 2 decades ago, individuals who were able to capture the attention of millions, and encourage millions more, were those who truly achieved or discovered something extraordinary.

They had gone above and beyond to have their name ‘out there’ and, in most cases, deserved that attention.

Today, almost anyone, from almost any background, can engage tens of millions of our impressionable youth in whatever content they release. And most of the time, their content is not reviewed or filtered to ensure it poses no harm to the community.

In fact, as the competition for internet fame increases, many ‘influencers’ have resorted to spontaneous, and often dangerous, acts to stand out from the crowd.

Which, in recent years, has encouraged equally controversial and hazardous behavior amongst our youth.

A schoolboy fell to his death while trying to take an ‘extreme selfie’ from the roof of a nine-story building.

However, this dilemma is well known and is currently being tackled by many international organizations.

The bigger issues still stand undefeated.

As mentioned before, online content is increasing at an incredibly exponential rate. YouTube, for example, sees 300 hours of video uploaded every minute, whilst Twitter sees 6,000 Tweets a second.

Even though this may sound harmless, the underlying consequences are jeopardizing the development of our future.

In its previous years, the internet was used as a platform to throw those with potential into the spotlight.

People who could offer something special to the World were acknowledged; their talent nurtured by those who found them amongst thousands.

Today, however, the competition for recognition no longer spans a couple of thousand individuals, instead, it includes hundreds of millions of people posting endless hours of their content.

As a result, those whose voices need to be heard are overshadowed, whilst their gifts go unnoticed.

Ultimately, any extraordinary talent is turned into background noise, minimizing our chances of discovering something, or someone, revolutionary.

Changing The Standards Of Fame:

Not too many years ago, only a few hundred channels had over a million subscribers. At the time, this was considered a remarkable accomplishment and attracted significant international attention.

Since then, however, almost 4 YouTube channels reach this milestone every day, with those numbers rapidly increasing every year.

As a result, ‘fame’ is beginning to lose its prestige. International attention no longer seems out of reach, on the contrary, it has become easily attainable.

Becoming a ‘celebrity’ is losing its significance. Soon, we will live in a world where most people meet the standards of ‘fame.’

In which case, would anybody truly be ‘famous’ anymore?

Obviously, to avoid this happening, those already in power will introduce new ‘celebrity criteria.’

‘Popularity’ will have its own hierarchy, further splitting our society and leaving those without a huge following at the bottom of the ladder.

And this leads me to my final point.

Affect Our Professional Lives:

If ‘online influencing’ continues to bleed into our daily lives, we may be facing a future where first impressions are based on our follower count, even in professional settings.

Our social profiles could become indicators of our skill and capability, to the point where job and college admissions could be granted based on our media following.

Even though this seems out of reach, it is already seen today.

Businesses rarely search for those who represent the message of their brand or meet their industrial criteria, rather, they hunt for influencers with the most following.

Understandably, this is beneficial for the businesses due to the attention it will bring, but who’s to say it won’t go further than this?

Will those without a certain number of followers be considered second class? Will a certain level of popularity become part of the criteria for our future jobs?

Only time will tell.

At the end of the day…

The digital revolution, unlike any other worldwide advancement, has impacted all generations, young and old, in ways we never could have imagined.

Undeniably, the full potential of this development has not been reached and will likely remain that way for decades to come.

Nevertheless, we should not let our excitement for discovery blind us from hazards that, otherwise, would have easily been spotted.

The spread and manipulation of ‘online influencers,’ no matter how glamorous they may seem, needs to be addressed.

Because, like you and me, they are simply ordinary individuals who can be influenced by bigger, more intimidating figures. We can never know whether the things they say are genuine, or if they’re faked to make a profit.

For example, how many times have you bought a product or gone to a restaurant advertised by your favorite influencer, only to realize it wasn’t worth the money?

Some ‘trusted’ influencers are using their platforms to advertise unethical practices and political views, yet we still trust them with our children.

Obviously, this does not apply to everyone on the internet, and many people will see this issue in different ways.

What we can be sure of, however, is that this topic will remain debatable for years to come, so please leave your opinions below...

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