Tue. Sep 22nd, 2020

Social media fails as platform for change

The appeal of influencers lays in a yearning for distraction rather than engagement (Photo Credit: (Dreamstime/TNS)

From the dawn of time until the creation of Tik Tok, social influencers have dominated society in one form or another. It’s an undisputed fact that people have always and will always uplift individuals as examples, icons, or even idols to model their behavior after. They act as cultural beacons, and often have a role in creating the culture in which we live.

These cultural influencers are everywhere you look in today’s world. In the West, people are all pitted in ruthless opposition to each other, all because of these social movements and their figureheads. The United States has endured possibly the most radical campaigns of change in its 244-year history without actually changing anything. It could be that this is because the citizens of the United States believe that the presidential election is the most decisive and far reaching reform they can achieve. Or maybe it could be that these grassroots movements simply do not hold enough financial power to implement change. 

The remarkable success of Donald Trump and his 2016 presidential campaign warrants attention in this field of social influence. The raw power of his simplified communication and ability to reach his target audience stands as an impressive achievement, one that stretches across the different strata of our society.

The simple truth is that most people desire to live in a black and white world. You either want the President to be put behind bars or you want the protestors in jail. You either praise the police for their efforts to stop crime or you condemn them for signing up for a racist system. You either say Black Lives Matter or you say All Lives Matter (or you’re silent). Few examine what made these events what they are. Fewer still examine what, and who caused Donald Trump to be the man he is today. But thankfully, more are discovering how injustice permeates law enforcement and more are learning about what conditions of inequality caused the protestors to make the sacrifices that they did. They’re finding the root of the issue. The solution lies in fixing the conditions that made these horrible actions possible.

Although their presence is not even close to the level of seriousness that the preceding political influencers embody, social media and Youtube influencers — celebrities included — present a compelling example to examine. Their influence over the younger generation of America is probably stronger than any other social or political figure in the past.

The concept of a vlogger is directly indicative of the late stage of capitalism in which we live. 

The concept of a vlogger is directly indicative of the late stage of capitalism in which we live.”

It shows how entertainment has absorbed the focus of the nation, and the working class. If you think about it, Tik Tok stars like the D’amelio sisters have practically received a random inheritance of millions and millions of dollars, just to live their lives. And everyone is urged to watch.

Now, I know it’s not their fault, and they shouldn’t be criticized for something that they consider to be their life’s big success. Who is to say I, or any of us would think any differently, or act any differently than they did? 

I know I often sound like the old guy griping at the younger generation in this column, but to be fair, this is the opinion section and you’re reading this because you want to hear my controversial opinion.

 I personally don’t see why people are so obsessed with this kind of entertainment. Those who accidentally come into fame usually possess no extraordinary talent and are not intelligent beyond measure. Instead, they are made into extremely attractive and engrossing products that absorb the precious little amount of free time that we have.

What if, for a moment, we just stopped and looked at social media for what it is? We try, in painstaking fashion to mold social media into a force for justice and change. 

But what we don’t realize is that it wasn’t made to be that way. It was made to distract you. It was made to make you happy. And it has failed.