Kim Tsuyuki
Staff Writer

Picture this: you click on the TikTok app, scroll through the main page, and, on every other post, you see a popular creator with a large group of people. Seeing influencers breaking social distancing guidelines and not wearing masks seems to be more and more normal as we get deeper into the pandemic. For the past few weeks, @xobrooklynne has been under fire for traveling to the U.S. from Canada. She posted videos in collaboration with other TikTokers (some known to hang out with different people frequently) without commenting if she has taken the proper precautions. Many fans were disappointed because she has posted before to encourage people to wear their masks. Brooklynne finally posted a video on Nov. 12, clarifying the situation. In the TikTok, she explained, “So I traveled to L.A. because I had a truly once in a lifetime business opportunity…” She continued by saying that, once she gets back to Canada, she will be quarantined for a minimum of 14 days. While it’s great to hear that she has quarantined and gotten tested twice (she only stated two instances in the TikTok), the whole situation raises an important question: are TikTok influencers encouraging their young audiences to break COVID-19 safety guidelines?

Brooklynne isn’t the first influencer to come under fire, and she won’t be the last. Back in July, popular social media creator, Nikita Dragun, hosted a huge birthday party. This party sparked a massive debate on how influencers should be using their platform during the pandemic. YouTube star Tyler Oakley tweeted out, “If your favorite influencers are at huge house parties during a pandemic (& are dumb enough to post it on social media)… they are bad influences.” When popular content creators post these harmful videos to TikTok (or any platform), they show their audience that they don’t care about the pandemic. Their audience may take their videos as an ‘okay’ to go out and hang with a large group of friends. If their favorite creator can do it, why can’t they? Third-year Tori Sturges had some thoughts about that, saying, “Much of their audience is made up of young, impressionable teens, and if they see their favorite TikTokers without masks, they might be less likely to wear masks and social distance.” Not only is their audience impressionable, these influencers also act like they are above the pandemic. Fourth-year Shay Thrasher said, “TikTok influencers not wearing their masks should be following the same guidelines. They aren’t special or above the virus; they shouldn’t be given any type of special treatment.”

Thrasher is right; these influencers are just regular people. Just because they’re famous doesn’t give them a pass. One thing that infuriated me about Brooklynne’s video is that she only had been tested twice. She got tested before she left Canada and then again midway through her L.A. trip. She does not regularly wear masks in her posts with other people, nor does she say if everyone in the collaboration tested negative for the virus. Influencers play such an essential role in normalizing wearing masks and staying six feet apart, and the fact that they aren’t doing a better job of promoting that is disappointing. They are telling their viewers that it’s okay to break COVID-19 safety guidelines. As long as you get tested, right? However, with COVID-19 cases rapidly rising again, more than just testing needs to be done. Influencers should be wearing their masks and staying six feet apart from people they’re filming with. An article by Health explained that people at the White House relied only on testing. Joseph Allen, Associate Professor of Exposure Assessment Science at Harvard, told Health, “It was never a question of if infection would happen at the White House, it was just a matter of when.” It only takes one person to infect countless others.

Feature Image: Courtesy of Avishek Das / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

Author

  • Kim Tsuyuki is a third-year English major with a minor in Film Studies. This is her first year working for the QC and is currently writing for the Arts & Entertainment section. When she isn’t working, she can be found playing video games, collecting stickers, and watching the same three movies (over and over, like chill out Kim). She’s kinda sad, but mostly hungry.

Kim Tsuyuki is a third-year English major with a minor in Film Studies. This is her first year working for the QC and is currently writing for the Arts & Entertainment section. When she isn’t working, she can be found playing video games, collecting stickers, and watching the same three movies (over and over, like chill out Kim). She’s kinda sad, but mostly hungry.

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