The Power of Influencers

Isabelle Fletcher, Staff Writer

With the rise of social media came the rise of influencers.

For ages, there have been celebrities of all kinds. Celebrities have become more powerful than ever. Social media platforms, like Twitter, have led to influencers to be able to interact with fans and show off their more personal side.

Celebrities are not the only ones being grated this power. Peoples from other platforms have been able to entertain their audience more and more. Many of these people are from YouTube.

One of the best examples of their influence is the initiative deemed #TeamTrees. The initiative started by James “Jimmy” Donaldson, known on YouTube as MrBeast.

MrBeast is famous on YouTube for his crazy pranks and extreme donations. Donations ranging from giving people free cars and tipping waitresses with gold bars.

On October 25, 2019, he released a video titled “Planting 20,000,000 Trees, My Biggest Project Ever!” they’d set the goal of planting 20 million trees before January 1st, 2019. In the video, he began to plant trees with his friends. They barely made a dent in the 20 million trees they want to achieve. The following day, MrBeast had recruited many of followers on Twitter, requesting them to help him plant the trees. Again this had barely put a bent in the number.

In response to this, MrBeast set up a website that assured that for every dollar, a tree would be planted. The website’s money going toward the Arbor Day Foundation.

Following the announcement, prominent social media influencers and companies came forward to donate to the cause. The top three contributors being Tobi Lutke, CEO of Shopify, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, and ELF Development A/S, a real estate company. As of November 6, a little over 13 million trees have been planted.

This is a fantastic representation of all the good things that social media and influencers can do. It can be said that this age of social media and influencers can be toxic at times and create drama within communities.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the drama is always prevalent. One community that deals with drama the most is the beauty community. Tensions with different ‘beauty gurus’  are constant. One example of these unfortunate events is the stand-off between James Charles and Tati Westbrook, two makeup artists.

The feud started April 22, 2019, when Charles promoted a vitamin that was in direct competition with Westbrook’s own brand of vitamins. This led to a response from Westbrook voicing her displeasure and disheartened by Charles’ actions. Previously Westbrook had been good friends with Charles and she felt this as a betrayal.

This was then followed by a post on Charles’ Instagram story, “I want to publicly apologize to my close friend, Tati. She has been like a mother to me since my first days in this industry and has given me more love, support, resources, and advice than I could ever ask for. This weekend I did an Instagram story for Sleep Vitamins that I’ve been taking because the brand helped me with security when the crowd around me at Coachella became unsafe. I did not accept any money for the post. As most of you know, Tati has a vitamin brand that I take on a daily, but at the moment, I did not think about the competition, which was a major oversight. I’ve supported Tati both online and off like she as done for me and am devasted that I hurt someone that I love and have endless respect for.”

At the peak of the drama, Westbrook had introduced the idea that Charles had allegedly coerced people to do explicit interactions. These claims have long since been disproven.

Going back and forth, videos were released relaying their side of the story, tweeting screenshots of text messages while other beauty gurus had picked sides.

As this was happening the two channels subscriber counts had dramatically changed. Charles’ sub count plummeting and Westbrook’s sub count was exponentially going up.

The community was split and were lapping up all the information they could gain, but it was all for naught. Charles’ finally video ended the feud, creating a stalemate between the two and creating a time wherein they both took time off of making videos. Eventually, they came back to their channels and started to produce their normal content as if nothing had happened.

This event had split many people and it shows how it can create a toxic social media community. People debating who was telling the truth and who was in the right. Throwing insults and getting mad at each other.

Social media has become an integral part of our lives, constantly checking Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, and Facebook. A notification here and a notification there. Dings and vibrations every second. “Social media is something of a double-edged sword.” said Roxane Gay, “At its best, social media offers unprecedented opportunities for marginalized people to speak and bring much-needed attention to the issues they face. At its worst, social media also offers ‘everyone’ an unprecedented opportunity to share in collective outrage without reflection.”