By Ntsako Mlambo (Child.of.Afrika)
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 2 of VARSITY News.
A national lockdown being put in place has resulted in the restriction of people and goods. The reasons for having it are very valid as doing this suppresses the spread of diseases, coronavirus in particular. The global pandemic coupled with these governmental restrictions has left many feeling vulnerable. There is not much to do under quarantine-like conditions in that movements are restricted, so many have found solace by being on social media.
The consumption of social media has definitely grown quickly during this time. The impact of the Covid-19 has disrupted every industry and has created new challenges. This has consequently led to a drop in income for some companies. It really is a battle. A survival of the fittest some might say. However, with people being at home they seem to constantly hunger for news broadcasters to provide trusted information on the world crisis and it’s with this hunger for updates or any Covid-19 related content that the media industry seeks to capitalise on.
People who are really benefiting from this crisis in the social media space, are influencers. Influencers on social media have now placed their content around health as they are aware of the fact people are living in fear of contracting the coronavirus. Some are advising audiences to use this time to acquire a new skill. Like knitting, make up, DIY activities, yoga, exercise, – the list is extensive. But the unexpected outbreak has forced us to become more introspective and reflective on our lives. This seems to be an area that influencers benefit from. The anxieties, fears and timid nature that we find ourselves in. Are we being exploited?
Influences are not necessarily genuine in their approach, and are aware of many people feeling desolate and desperate. Capitalising off of our vulnerability is not a good idea because it is not helping us. At the end of the day they are the ones benefiting from onlookers and followers. Social media influencers distort true reality and romanticise daily life. This is problematic because not everyone has the same opportunities and resources available to them.
Influencers who have changed their content to exploit the feelings of a thousand of people living in fear are not doing any justice or benefit to our society. Instead, they should focus on safe spaces and engagement to followers and people. Not exploiting, capitalising or profiting from those who use social media as a coping mechanism, entertainment or education in the wake of the epidemic.
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