Are They Really Stars?

Students debate whether influencers qualify as celebrities


Charley Thomas and Isabella Vaz

Isabella Vaz- Yes

Emma Chamberlain — know who she is? My aunt calls her a celebrity. I call her an influencer.

What’s the difference? A generation.

Social media platforms have grown to become the place where billions go for inspiration, entertainment or just to kill time. I’m sure you know that users with a million+ followers eventually become known as influencers.

Influencers develop a platform where their actions and words have an impact on those who follow and look up to them. That impact translates to dollars and celebrity status.

The main argument from those who say otherwise is that celebrities find their fame through “traditional channels,” such as television, radio and magazines.

Yet TikTok and Instagram are arguably replacing those mediums as social media’s now grown to be the most impactful channel of our generation. Influencers are entrusted by companies to grow their profits making the influencer market a $5 billion to $10 billion industry.

Ever ordered the Charli D’Amelio cold brew at Dunkin? You wouldn’t be the only one. The day D’Amelio’s drink launched Dunkin saw a nearly 50% increase in drink sales and a 57% increase in Dunkin’s daily app downloads. D’Amelio’s 108 million followers on TikTok are what landed her a sponsorship with the international fast-food chain and that’s no joke. Just ask Jimmy Fallon who interviewed the internet sensation on “The Tonight Show,” a common stop for celebrity guests.

The impact of these influencers goes beyond money. Similar to traditional celebrities, influencers shape styles and trends seen in everyday life.

The Jojo Siwa bow your cousin wears or the “merch” worn throughout the halls are real-life examples.

The definition of celebrity is simply a “famous person,” and influencers fit that definition.

We all know their names — that’s all it takes.

Now go back to what you were doing. You know — scrolling on TikTok.

Charley Thomas- No

In this day and age, with the ever-increasing popularity of social media platforms, the line between celebrities and influencers has become blurred. Many followers of influencers will argue that they are worthy of the celebrity title, citing their name or face recognition along with their social media statistics as evidence, but this comparison reveals itself to be quite comical when one examines the crucial difference between exceptional, celebrity-like qualities and accomplishments and fleeting, digital fame. 

To demonstrate an example of the difference between a true A-list celebrity and a social media influencer, let us compare two well-known figures that perfectly fit their respective categories: Zendaya and Addison Rae. 

Zendaya, somebody who is indisputably recognized as a celebrity, exhibits exceptional talent in fields such as singing, modeling, acting and dancing. Additionally, she lays claim to multiple highly coveted awards, such as the Emmy for best lead actress in a drama series for her work in “Euphoria” and a People’s Choice Award for favorite movie actress after her appearance in “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” 

Addison, despite her TikTok fame, simply does not have a remarkable ability, talent or accomplishment that would warrant her label as a celebrity. Although her follower count and popularity may have risen rapidly over the last year or so, it’s doubtful she will find herself as “influential” as some say she is able to be with her platform in, say, 5 or 10 years from now. 

After all, influencers are cycled through just as quickly as any other, short-lived internet trend, as can be demonstrated when attempting to answer questions like “Where is everybody who was in the once viral “It’s Everyday Bro” video now?” Other than maybe Jake Paul, the main subject of the song, everybody in that video who had their 15 minutes of fame as “influencers” in 2017 is largely irrelevant just four years later in 2021. 

Lastly, to fully emphasize the great extent to which influencers differ from celebrities, I’ll present one final hypothetical: What if today — whether it be due to some global disaster or a magical occurrence — all social media platforms vanished? 

Celebrities would simply lose their social media presence, while influencers, in losing the exact same thing, would be stripped of their entire livelihood. It’s this lack of presence, influence and accomplishment beyond the parameters of apps like TikTok and Instagram that firmly separate the viral from the timeless, the interesting from the extraordinary and the influencers from the celebrities.