The social media effect

Spencer Cameron, Staff Writer

Social media has accomplished some great things. Whether it has allowed you to connect with old friends, post a picture of your fancy dinner, or join powerful groups such as the #MeToo movement. Social media has been an integral part of society for the majority of my life.

However, there’s a negative side to everything. While social media is great and a useful tool, it can be just as bad. 

A lot of people don’t realize the power they have with a keyboard and internet access. In fact, I feel the privilege of social media has blinded society.

YouTube is another perfect example of this. The platform that launched February 2006 used to be a place where everyone could create content for fun and share the videos they put a lot of effort into. 

The early era of YouTube consisted of great content such as stop-motion animation, popular personalities such as “Fred” and gaming videos that allowed people to become immersed in another world.

Today, all of that has changed. Once companies found a way to monetize these creators, the creators began pandering to their investors and creating content that sells, not content that they’ve put countless amounts of effort into. 

On any given day, if you browse the trending page, you’ll only see what the money wants you to see. Rarely will you see a good, well-thought video trending on the site. 

Appealing to a younger audience has almost ruined the site to no return. Most of the creators with a gigantic following have figured out ways to maximize their profits, putting money over quality and the well-being of their easily-influenced viewers.

“Content” creators such as Morgz, Jake Paul and Logan Paul all create content that is centered around getting clicks and views.

With their ridiculous titles and cartoon-style thumbnails, each of these content creators thrive off of one thing. Creating “family-friendly” content for money. They create content that will sell, not content that they really care about.

There’s a pattern with all of their videos. They all follow the trends and what’s popular. Morgz, the youngest of the three, is a genius when it comes to pandering to a kid/family-friendly audience. Thumbnails, or the preview of what the video is going to be about, showcase a variety of eye-catching things. Overly-animated people, girls, bright colors, emojis and the popular logos such as Tik-Tok flood his page.

Jake and Logan Paul follow a similar pattern as well. While they both follow the same style and trends as Morgz, they appeal to a slightly older audience. With the overly-animated people, emojis and girls, they decided to sprinkle a little bit of fake drama in the mix.

The Paul brothers constantly clash with other YouTubers, setting up a desire for kids to be a part of a certain group. They’ve even gone as far to set up “real” boxing matches against other content creators. This enables them to gain more views from the competitor, sell tickets and more merchandise.

These three aren’t the only culprits. This formula of fake titles, fake thumbnails and exaggerated content plagues the top creators on the website. A few famous creators such as Badabun, MrBeast, Markiplier, who are all a part of the top-26 in most subscribed content creators, all follow this formula.

So, why does this matter so much to me? They all pander to one particular audience, and that is children. Parents nowadays would rather stick a tablet in their kids face to keep them occupied instead of taking them to a park or playing with them.

When you give a kid free reign on the internet, of course they’re going to look for things that apply to them. This is why we see the trend of colorful and animated thumbnails with exaggerated titles.

This is a dangerous trend for kids. They start to idolize these people, and they’re too young to realize all this content is not real and is being created just to generate money.

Instead of aspiring to become doctors, artists, scientists and even movie stars, kids in America want to become “YouTubers/Vloggers” at an alarming rate. According to an article on a group of 1,000 children from America were asked what they wanted to be when they grow up.

They had the choice of astronaut, musician, professional athlete, teacher, or vlogger/YouTuber. With the ability to choose up to three options, becoming a vlogger topped the poll with 29% of children voting for it, with teacher at 26%, professional athlete at 23%, musician at 19% and astronaut at 11%.

There is nothing wrong with aspirations. However, a lot of this content is created to pander to the children for their own gain. The kids are too young to realize this. Every time a video is watched, every time merchandise is sold, they’re fueling these creators to keep feeding off of their young audience. The kids don’t realize that these content creators view them as another dollar sign and not as an actual person. 

You have a better chance at playing and winning the lottery than you do becoming a big “vlogger” on YouTube.

YouTube isn’t the only platform setting up unrealistic expectations within children. Instagram is a cesspool of people lying to their following for gains.

Take a look at some of the most-followed pages on Instagram. These “influencers” aren’t just posting pictures of their everyday life. They’re constantly advertising beauty standards and selling you products by advertising it with their rich and luxurious lifestyle.

I decided to take a look at three very popular Instagram accounts, just to see how many posts are advertisements. Kylie and Kendall Jenner, and Kim Kardashian are the subjects I chose to investigate, as their combined follower-count is an astounding 451 million people. I used a sample size of the 100 most-recent posts from each account on March 5.

The first account I studied was famous model, Kendall Jenner. 54 of her 100 most-recent posts were product placement or advertisement. Burberry, Calvin Klein and numerous magazine companies fill her page.

The next account was her sister, Kim Kardashian. While most of her posts were advertising her own products, she still clocked in with 41 of her 100 most-recent posts were an advertisement. However, a majority of them were plugging her own beauty line.

The account that surprisingly had the least amount of advertisements was Kylie Jenner. Despite owning her own business, she came in with the least amount of advertisements with 37 out of 100 posts.

Accounts like this plague Instagram, even at a smaller scale. They’re silently showcasing products, and they’re getting paid to do it. Manufacturers and companies advertise through these large accounts that have objectively beautiful people, as a way to say “if you wear this product, you’ll look just like this model!”

In reality, it’s all a scam created by these companies to sell you their product. If you see what is trendy and popular, you’re going to want to purchase it to fit in with the masses.

It feels like that is what social media is nowadays, a cesspool of marketing schemes. Once the companies found a way to profit off of popular social media accounts, they began finding ways to take advantage of impressionable people.