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Should influencers be expected to behave like role models?

From throwing parties during a pandemic to countless controversies, influencer Bryce Hall sets anything but a good example for his impressionable audience of millions.  – Photo by Brycehall / Instagram

When I think of the word “role model,” I think of my parents — the people I’ve looked up to my entire life, who've been by my side and who've cheered me on since the beginning. They taught me right from wrong, filling the spot of "best role models" by being both relatable and inspirational.

But for the young people of today, there is a new group of people to look up to: social media influencers.

Influencers are people who can reach a large audience with the content that they put out due to their large followings. And since young people spend a large part of their free time online liking, watching and commenting on influencers’ content, they end up idolizing them.

As we've seen, social media has the power to influence entire generations, and this power of guidance shouldn't be taken lightly.

Let's take Bryce Hall, for instance, a social media “star” that has 7.9 million followers on Instagram, 19.7 million followers on TikTok and close to 3.6 million subscribers on YouTube.

Despite his major platform, his behavior has been nothing short of problematic. He’s been involved in an abundance of controversies, such as slut-shaming girls on the internet, getting arrested for drugs and continuously being charged for violating coronavirus disease (COVID-19) guidelines by throwing huge parties. And just recently, he was sued and charged by a Los Angeles restaurant owner for assault, battery and "violence motivated by race."

What Hall fails to realize is that so many of his young followers actually look up to him, and when they see him doing things like this, it leads to normalizing really bad behavior.

Given the power of his influence, it's time he steps up and takes on the responsibility to be a better role model for his audience.

Sure, these influencers are young, and some might say their carelessness is a given. Partying isn’t abnormal for high school or college-age kids. After all, when you start to make a living off of fans constantly viewing content of you living a reckless lifestyle, of course influencers like Hall are going to continue creating the same content.

And while people under 25, who aren’t immunocompromised, will most likely be fine if they get COVID-19, this doesn’t take away from the fact that he is still running around Los Angeles, exposing everyone he is in contact with to his reckless behavior throughout the entirety of this pandemic.

Fundamentally, I don't think a lot of these influencers are the best role models for high schoolers and college students. We can’t forget that underneath all their social clout, these influencers are young adults, just like us, who are still trying to figure it out.

Their frontal lobes are still developing, and as they continue to learn about the world around them, they’re going to make mistakes. The only difference is that they make these mistakes in front of millions of impressionable kids. The eagerness for fame and fortune that a lot of these young influencers have blinds them to all of the good possibilities that can come out of their immense platforms.

Regardless of whether influencers should be role models, they are. The stars of social media are just as likely to be role models as traditional celebrities — maybe even more so because it's so easy for children to access their content at any point during the day. They're not losing the followers that they have any time soon because these young people are looking up to them and enjoying the content they are putting out.

The followers of all popular influencers will be quick to follow any fad that the influencer advertises, so influencers should make it their responsibility to be good role models and display positive behavior through their posts to help create a more positive environment on social media.

So next time, before clicking the "follow" button on the latest influencer's account that’s blowing up, make sure it’s someone who embodies the values that you want to incorporate into your own lifestyle.

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