Jack Edwards blue plaque: importance of influencers?

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In response to Palatinate’s April Fool’s article on Jack Edwards receiving a blue plaque.

Like many other students, the summer leading up to my first year was one filled with excitement, uncertainty and not much to do. So I naturally spent a lot of time watching University and College “Move in” vlogs, from the massive sorority houses in the USA to grimy British accommodation, I watched video after video and of course sought out every Durham vlog I could find. Jack Edwards “Moving to University Vlog (Room Tour + Matriculation)” was the most memorable for me: it felt like being let in on a secret, learning about Matriculation and the college system from the perspective of a first-year student. The video series followed a Fresher’s Week Jack experiencing Durham for the very first time and gave insight into the unique Durham experience. At my school, people very rarely went to Durham and most of my peers didn’t know where or what it was so the entire process was a mystery to me. Of course the University sanctioned videos and information provided was helpful, but seeing someone my age in my exact position, is advice that the University could not create.

For many people, the suggestion of a social media influencer joining the ranks of these esteemed women would be almost offensive

Palatinate News fooled many students on April 1st with an article explaining how Jack Edwards would be receiving a blue plaque for his contributions to Durham University. The article caused some controversy with commenters saying it “speaks volumes about the worth (or lack thereof) of Durham University ” to have Edwards receive a plaque. But are people questioning whether Jack Edwards deserves a plaque because of the work he has or has not done, or does the scrutiny come from the stigma surrounding social media? If we separate the work he does from YouTube and social media, it could be argued that he is almost a role model and Durham celebrity. His influence cannot be denied, especially when we consider what St Cuthberts Principle at the time called “The Jack Edwards Effect ”. This was because the year after his “University Vlog’s” series, Edward’s college St Cuthbert’s was oversubscribed for the first time. The intention of his videos were not to advertise Durham and the organic nature meant that it was genuine and entertaining and placed him in iconic Durham alumni status.

Even beyond Jack Edwards we can see the impact that social media influencers have had on British society

Durham council has only given the honour of a blue plaque to four people: Mary Gibson, Dora Heslop and Winifred Hindmarch, the three first female graduates of Durham University and Daisy Edis, a pioneering female photographer. For many people, the suggestion of a social media influencer joining the ranks of these esteemed women would be almost offensive. The first three female graduates marked a turning point not just for the history of Durham University but for British history, a symbol of a new era immortalised with the blue plaque. Daisy Edis is another memorable part of Durham history with her photography work which recorded the faces and places of Durham. Although Jack Edwrads contributions to Durham would not be enough to warrant a blue plaque presently (especially as they are only awarded 20 years after the recipients death) could we see commemorative plaques for social media influencers in the future?

Other requirements for the plaque include having a connection to the city, which Edwards would adhere to as he lived here as a student, but another requirement is “If the person was eminent in his or her field and is listed in appropriate general national biographical sources for the period”. Because the position of influencer is such a modern profession (with some doubting its authority as a profession at all) this requirement wouldn’t be fulfilled. Even beyond Jack Edwards we can see the impact that social media influencers have had on British society: Zoella broke records for the highest selling debut book of all time and KSI’s Prime drink set to surpass $1.2 billion. So, should social media influencers be held in high enough esteem to deserve a blue plaque one day in the future? I think yes.At one point in history the work of a photographer like Daisy Edis would seem too modern, but now we respect and recognise it as an artform and I think that one day the same will be said of social media stars. And for Jack Edwards in particular, his connections to and influence in terms of Durham University means a blue plaque in the future doesn’t seem too far fetched especially considering how young he is and how much he has grown since his university days.

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One thought on “Jack Edwards blue plaque: importance of influencers?

  • I agree with you! Thanks to that, we see the importance of insurance for all industries

    Reply

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