On March 16, Instagram model and influencer Karylle Banez uploaded an image of herself with the caption, “If I had the corona virus I know exactly who I be sneezing on (@ the rude waitress here).”
Her insensitive words immediately backfired, prompting individuals to comment on her Instagram in defense of the waitress. Although she probably intended her post to be funny, like many other social media users, Banez’s post downplays the danger of the ongoing health crisis.
People have been advised to stay at home in order to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, which has led some people to spend most of their day on social media. Feeds are overwhelmed with content involving the virus, but influencers, celebrities and famous brand’s posts typically tend to be the center of attention.
As prominent figures, their actions hold a lot of power and influence over others. These individuals have major public responsibility, and often feel the pressure to post content that is relevant to what is trending at the moment.
Even if the post is intended to be lighthearted, it can be perceived as inappropriate if it is not properly thought out.
Celebrities, influencers and famous brands must be aware that their message on social media can affect them either negatively or positively. While remaining silent is also an option, it is not the preferred solution, because the pandemic is not something that can or should be ignored.
Famous individuals should be able to express their opinion on their social media, but with caution in how they approach the situation. Instead of offering medical advice or ignoring the seriousness of the pandemic, they should encourage followers to listen to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other disease expert’s guidelines.
Influencers can encourage the importance of working from home and social distancing measures to a wide range of people. They can also help clear up the misinformation being spread around.
Lighthearted content with factual information is beneficial and can be uploaded during these times of crisis, but there is so much more that can be done. People approach social media as an outlet for entertainment during quarantine, but it is more than that.
Influencers must demonstrate authenticity and vulnerability in order to seem relatable to their followers who are seeking realness. It is time for them to focus less on appearing relatable and more on reinforcing their relationships with their followers by reflecting the new reality the world is facing.
Having a platform that is viewed by thousands can be intimidating, but influencers can use it to spread awareness and provide comfort to those who are living in fear. In a time of social distancing, they can connect people virtually with one another and stimulate a sense of support.