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Partying and Pandemics

“If your favourite influencers are at huge parties during a pandemic… they are bad influencers. Unfollow them.”

Initially, the pandemic was believed to be the great equaliser. Something that could affect us all and would not discriminate based off of race, class, or gender. Unfortunately, as the pandemic unfolded, it became clear that this was not the case. Not everyone was afforded the luxury of isolating at home. Essential workers such as nurses and delivery drivers have been working relentlessly throughout the pandemic. People have lost their jobs and housing. This pandemic hasn’t been easy for anyone, but it is considerably less challenging for the affluent and privileged. 

With all this extra time, influencers and Tik Tokkers have had a desperately captivated audience and many have risen to mega stardom. Their platforms have amassed millions of followers and Tik Tok users cling to their every move. The influencer is slightly more tangible than the celebrity, they could be any of us, and because we relate to them, we are easy targets for their many promotions. They promote more than products though; they promote lifestyles as well. That’s why their behaviour in this pandemic is critical, because we model our lives after them. Some have taken this responsibility seriously, encouraging their followers to stay home and wear masks. Others, however, have been doing the exact opposite. 

Celebrities seem unbothered by COVID-19. They somehow have access to coronavirus tests much easier than normal people and have been jetting off on vacations across the world. If they do contract the virus, they will have access to the best medical care in the world. As they are so far removed from reality, the virus honestly doesn’t seem like a threat to them, or at least that’s how they are behaving. 

Recently, as summer rolled around in the US, Los Angeles-based Tik Tokkers have been throwing numerous parties and obnoxiously posting them online for their millions of followers to see. Many have attempted to defend their actions by claiming it is their ‘job’ to be socialising and providing entertainment for their followers. Tyler Oakley actually called these so-called influencers out for abusing their platforms.

This came after a party was held at the Hype House that 70 people attended. One of the hosts even apologised and promised to be more cautious in the future. As most of these influencers are young and healthy, they probably aren’t nervous about suffering from the virus, but they are definitely responsible for not spreading it to people with vulnerable immune systems. Even though there are some ordinary people throwing parties, these influencers have to be mindful of the impressionable users that aspire to be like them.     

Everyone is itching for life to go back to normal and when we see the people we look up to acting like the virus has disappeared, it’s very likely we will behave in the same immature way. Cyril Ramaphosa called out those having drinking sprees when alcohol was banned for a second time. Even if you aren’t worried about being personally affected by the virus, you have to ensure you are keeping those in your community safe as well. The sooner we observe lockdown strictly, the sooner infections will drop, and remnants of normal life can begin. 

Although it is frustrating to see influencers live out their luxurious lives without a care in the world, we cannot model our own behaviour after them. It might be time for us to think critically about who we follow and what their values are before we give them our engagement. 

Aleya is a first year student at UCT currently completing her undergraduate degree with majors in Politics, Psychology and Law. She is an intersectional feminist and avid follower of current affairs with big dreams of making the world a better place.
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