By Morgan Jack
TikTok can easily be dismissed as frivolous and ‘silly’, but as an app that has now amassed 500 million users, it cannot be denied that this platform is inherently linked to larger issues. The actions of TikTok influencers have recently been put under the microscope, as they appear to consistently believe they are superior to the Covid-19 restrictions and continue to regularly socialise and host parties. In a time where we are seeing the drastic impact of individual action we have to ask: can the choices of these influencers be justified?
Across the past few months, there have been myriad examples where influencers have overtly disregarded Covid-19 restrictions. The tension was heightened when a group of TikTok stars met at a bar for a Halloween party, sparking immense backlash due to the complete lack of masks and social distancing precautions. The most notable figure to speak out against the TikTok stars was Ariana Grande, who appeared on the Zach Sang show and said: “Of all the things that we could have done, couldn’t we have just stayed home for a few more weeks like all the other countries that were fine, and are better than we are?”. Grande emphasised the superficial nature of the gathering, asking if “We all needed that Instagram post that badly?” as the stars went on to splash the event across all their respective social media accounts.
In response to the criticism, several influencers agreed with Grande, for example, TikTok star Addison Rae described Grande’s comments as ‘fair and ‘understandable’ adding that ‘I definitely have been not going. I just have been trying to stay in,’. Nonetheless, Rae has still been spotted on numerous occasions at various bars and restaurants, so is she genuinely taking accountability? Another TikTok star to support Grande’s critique was Dixie D’amelio, who when approached about grande’s comments said ‘I don’t really know what to think. I mean, she’s right. She’s right.’. In stark contrast, Bryce Hall entirely dismissed Grande’s statement as ‘unnecessary’ and a ‘marketing move’, claiming she was trying to capitalise on the pre-existing dislike of so-called ‘TikTok stars’. Eventually, even Hall admitted that Grande was right. Hall has been personally called out for hosting numerous parties, notably his 21st birthday where over 100 guests were reportedly hosted without masks. The situation escalated to the extent that the Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered the water and power to his home to be cut.
These new platforms have also raised the interesting distinction between a celebrity and an influencer, bringing to the forefront debates about whether they should both be held to the same standard. Celebrities typically have a long build-up to fame, whereas several of these influencers are thrown into fame at a rapid rate. Interestingly, despite being in similar fields, here we see a celebrity on a completely opposing side to the influencer. Ultimately influencers have to accept that their platforms have just as far-reaching impacts as celebrities, as Los Angeles City lawyer Mike Feuer commented, “If you have a combined 19 million followers on TikTok in the middle of a public health crisis, you should be modelling great behaviour.”
Influencers know that when they grow their platforms it is inevitable that their younger followers will look up to them and adjust their decisions accordingly, so it is vital that stars think about the consequences of their actions. Not only did these stars blatantly defy restrictions, but they appeared almost proud as they flaunted it on social media. Some may retort that these influencers did not sign up to be viewed as role models, especially when many influencers are young and are learning right from wrong for themselves. Whilst there has to be some leeway for mistakes, in the midst of the global pandemic there is very little room for error. At the end of the day it is up to you to ask yourself: are these influencers merely young and trying to navigate this crazy new world or do they view themselves as invincible and above the restrictions that are implemented to keep us all safe?
Image credit: Hello i’m Nik via UnSplash