Even before the pandemic hit, industry insiders had begun to speculate that the golden age of influencers was coming to an end, with the public growing more critical and less engaged with their ostentatious hauls, tearful apology videos and glamorous events.
Now, as millions around the globe are confined to their painfully average homes and grappling with unemployment or lost income, the appeal of a 20-something year old with lip fillers and a Cartier love bracelet talking about what they eat in a day is well and truly lost.
Lifestyle influencers or “content creators” are faced with the challenge of staying relevant when their usual domains of travel, parties and dining are closed indefinitely and for the most part, they’re failing miserably.
First there were the near-nude photos of influencers donning face masks, thinly veiled cries for clout with captions that gestured vaguely at public service. Or in the case of Logan Paul, a shameless cry for clout captioned ‘F*ck the coronavirus’. Truly inspirational.
Then in early April, fashion blogger Arielle Charnas and Kardashian clan matriarch Kris Jenner faced backlash after some suggested that their status has helped them to gain access to COVID-19 testing, despite limited availability and rigorous testing criteria at the time.
Charnas, who tested positive for the virus, then went on to broadcast her decision to move her family from NYC to their home in the Hamptons to her 1.3 million followers, where she proceeded to walk the streets just 11 days after her positive diagnosis. It was a saga that saw her labelled as out of touch, selfish and insensitive. The learning is, if you’re going to openly flaunt official health advice, maybe don’t put it on your Instagram story?
The situation in which we find ourselves has triggered a collective re-evaluation of what’s important. Our loved ones, our health, our homes and the freedom to pursue our passions have made that list. Designer handbags, luxury vacations to the Maldives and an aesthetic Instagram grid however, have not.
The people we now look to for advice and inspiration are the people who have legitimate means to protect the things we hold dear. It would seem that influence is being put back into the hands of those who deserve to have it.
Scientists and infectious disease specialists have stepped into the limelight, becoming household names in countries worst hit by the virus. A great deal of space on social media is now occupied by the everyday heroes on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19, or the small acts of kindness from across the globe that remind us how incredible humans can be when they decide to step up.
It might be wishful thinking, but I like to think that the children of the COVID-19 era will grow up idolising healthcare workers, activists and the political leaders over Youtubers and 16-year-olds in crop tops who make Tik Tok dances.
Annabel Begeng, Junior Copywriter @ 50 Crates