By Chino Mediola
Chalk Campus Correspondent
If you take time to scroll on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you’re bound to eventually see one of them. Social media influencers have sprouted almost out of nowhere, and suddenly their opinions and social media posts matter a little bit more than yours.
I find that there is something about social media that feels so fresh, unique, and exciting. Every single one of us can document our lives for the rest of the world to see. As long as you have a camera and internet access, you’re capable of creating media content to be viewed by others whenever and wherever. In truth, anyone can be a social media influencer, anyone can have a voice that people would listen to.
And yet, something promising and filled with potential in our society always manages to be ruined by politics and corruption.
On December 12, after a string of “social media influencers” posted a series of similar photos promoting 2019 senatorial candidate Juan Ponce-Enrile, the netizens were quick to express their criticisms and outrage.
I understand why the local Twitter community was so upset. These individuals who call themselves "influencers" seem to have been using their platform in such questionable ways which raises red flags.
A social media influencer’s contribution to society is found in their unique voice and perspective. It might sound cheesy, but people put their trust in these social media influencers. Dedicated fans find comfort in the real aspects to their personalities, whether that be their sense of fashion, relatable lifestyle, or even just their day-to-day grind. Anyone can be an influencer, as long as they have the voice that is worth listening to.
So when we see people like this, whose entire product is their opinion and their character, suddenly start peddling the interests of others (presumably for payment), things can get a little disappointing. These accused influencers were quick to defend themselves, but it seems that it didn’t go over as well as they’d hope.
The outrage was not only rampant, but it was also justified. Social media natives are more than aware of how the sinfluencer business works. The personality they built up, though individual and unique, is a brand, and a brand that they want to sell to other people. But when these influencers tried to sell us one of the country’s longest-serving corrupt politicians, people had enough.
But the people who follow these influencers aren’t limited to those who can afford to be critical. Not many are aware of what is being sold to them. All they know is that they like the people that they follow. Perhaps that’s the deal we made, as we built a free and enterprising media platform where everyone can be an influencer, we subjected ourselves into something where everyone in our society can be influenced.
As I look at the way influencers continue to be a part of social media, I cannot help but wish that things would be different. I wish that we’d have influencers whose work truly stands for their own opinion, influencers who use this shiny new tool of social media to create good in the world.
It’s easy to succumb to money, to sell your influence for cold hard cash. But money isn’t the real influencer in this world. We are. We get to choose who does the influencing in our society, and who we get influenced by. Here’s to hoping that we choose wisely moving forward.
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