Saturday, February 24, 2024

Tiktok Influencer Culture and Undeserved Fame

We live in confusing times. Quite often it is hard to track why and how someone got famous and their life completely changed without doing anything in particular. These questions arise only because a large population of people struggles for basic necessities. These people do not benefit from the changing trends of the world, the latest memes or viral videos. Yet we all directly or indirectly participate in the creation of and promulgation of social media trends. Yet many are confused as to why a person with no particular credentials or expertise or extraordinary skills should get way ahead in life from the entire population just because of a viral tweet, meme or video.


Dananeer Mobeen was just an average Jane, living her life, occasionally making videos for the internet. One day her video with no context, humour or substance whatsover gets popular and goes viral. Thousands and thousands of people are sharing her content and following her on all social media apps. Within a couple of days, she gains a following of about a million people without having done anything at all. While many find the video slightly amusing, a large chunk of population is confused as to why something so trivial gained so much attention within a short time.

The video sparked a conversation about whether or not she deserved so much fame. A large following was surely going to aid her in getting sponsorships and brand deals. That means she would be gaining huge amounts of money even when she was not necessarily doing anything to deserve it. This was countered with many people defending her right to gain whatever was coming her way. People talked of algorithms and how the game of likes and clicks is partially dependent on creators and partially on the audience. A person can not be blamed for getting famous when the fame is provided by the attention people are giving to that person.

However, social media is a powerful and influential tool. The people that get famous for their digital content often end up having more connectivity with people than other celebrities. They have a certain level of influence in people’s day to day affairs. As social media is a highly interactive platform, any of the popular trends and famous people influence people in their interactions. It shapes the way we enjoy things, what kind of humor we enjoy, who we give importance to and even how we think. In that sense, people that we make famous are going to gain a lot of significance not just individually but collectively as well. These people would be able to craft narratives, promote movements, start important conversations or bring people together. That means that with a huge following, a huge responsibility also comes upon their shoulders. They have to be careful with their words and actions for now they have been brought under the harsh scrutiny of public eye. It is even more drastic if their fame does not come organically but abruptly.

The influencer culture in Pakistan is still relatively new. People are not as divisive or aware of all the repercussions of making random people that do not have much credentials or experience come under the spotlight. In America, this culture is widespread. A large contributor of that is an app called as Tiktok. On Tiktok, people make short videos to entertain people. These videos can sometimes have a lot of creative concepts and high quality editing but more than often that content is quite meaningless, flashy but without substance. This means that children in their early teens are attracted towards it. Children have shorter attention spans and are attracted to frivolous stuff. The app’s demographic is largely children within the ages of 15-24.

A lot of American teenagers have garnered a lot of attention due to their Tiktok videos. Their videos usually follow similar patterns of quirky dances or lip syncing to songs. They get attention from being conventionally pretty and are able to monetize from their Tiktok videos. Many young children in their early teens got so much famous that they dropped out of schools at an early age and moved to Los Angeles where most of the celebrities reside. There they would be able to meet similar people like them and continue making Tiktok videos that gave them huge chunks of money. Not only were they already not receiving education, they surrounded themselves with people exactly like them. These people are now extremely popular among young people who do not know any better and are influenced by them.

During the global pandemic, Los Angeles reported staggering numbers of infected individuals. This was because all the Tiktokers there were partying and not maintaining social distance guidelines. These people were heavily criticized by the American media yet they continued to party all along 2020 and went to different states. People started noticing how due to finding fame at early ages these people had a lesser fear of consequences. They were reaping the benefits of having found an income source that could even buy them mansions and they did not consider themselves equal to the average citizen. This directly shows how providing fame mindlessly to anyone who goes viral is not necessarily wise. Specially when those people are young or targeting a young audience. Young people have impressionable minds and they will only pick up harmful ideas and messages from the people who do not know any better themselves.

It is, however, inevitable. Social media is not run by any ethical responsibility. It allows everyone to post what ever they please and the spread of content is done through algorithms that are not controlled by people operating the social media. This means that an influencer culture would inevitably infiltrate our society as well. The dilemma of this culture is that a bunch of people are famous and enjoy the perks of their fame but not many people can tell exactly what they do or what they are famous for. Their identity or career is being an “social media influencer” which is just building a persona that people follow and get influenced by. The persona itself just needs to follow the necessary social standards for you to be famous. You earn all this by merely existing and you get ahead in life by a lot of people that are actually struggling to make through but do acquire skills and passions much more than an influencer could have.

Aspiring to be an influencer and finding fame by doing the bare minimum is actually the result of rapidly increasing rates of human commoditization. Everything that a human is and everything that a human can be is now a commodity. We find that we can make some bucks off of different aspects of living. We can shred away whatever we are and whatever we do, we sprinkle it up with many layers of unrealistic perceptions, we wrap it up for the customers and give it out. We make the profit and we make the savings. It appears that we were able to make a living for ourselves out of nothing. But the truth is it took away the substance of life itself.

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Category: Entertainment

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