If you’re somewhat tech-savvy, you probably have heard the term “Influencer” before. There are lots of other names for these individuals, but Influencer is the general term for someone who’s career primarily involves creating social media content for their followers, and get paid to do so via sponsorships and other endorsements.
Inherently, there’s nothing with this profession. If I could get paid six figures to post pictures of myself on a beach to Instagram, I’d happily do so. Who wouldn’t? These are just normal people who have capitalized on their adventurous lifestyle, and been able to turn their hobbies into their income.
The problem, however, are most of these influencers are terrible people, and don’t deserve the platform they’ve somehow managed to build themselves.
The entire premise of this article comes from the recent events involving multiple influencers outright scamming their followers out of their money via cryptocurrency. For those of you unaware, Crypto functions very similarly to the stock market in most cases. If a demand for a cryptocurrency goes up, the price goes up. If people start selling, the price goes down.
Over the last month, there have been two major scandals involving key influencers that have pulled what is known as a “Pump & Dump” scheme on their followers. Yes, these influencers are outright scamming the people that support their livelihood and allow them to live this lifestyle.
I’m not going to go too much into detail on this, both because there are numerous videos that can be found online about the situation, and that it’s still a developing situation. But the short version is this: a group of influencers work with programmers to create a new cryptocurrency, focused around some form of charity. The Influencers buy into this new crypto at the ground level, when it’s worth basically nothing. They then promote this new currency to their loyal follower base (who just happen to be younger kids that don’t know any better), and encourage them to buy in.
Once the currency launches to the public, the price skyrockets as the demand increases. Then, as the price rises, the influencers that bought a majority of the currency in the beginning, sell their shares. And this sends the price into a nosedive, destroying any chance of profit for their followers. In some cases, I’ve seen kids stating they lost 50% of their money in the first two minutes of buying.
Since crypto isn’t heavily regulated like the stock market or other paper currencies, things like this can happen with little to no repercussions. That means that these influencers, while they can still be investigated by the FBI, were easily able to scam their followers out of their hard earned money.
This is a terrible situation, but the biggest problem I have with this, is the impact it’s having on the younger generation. A majority of these influencer’s audience is made up of children, primarily middle and high schoolers, who are still in that blissful ignorance phase of life (please take me back). These kids look up to these influencers, the same way our generation looked up to Michael Jordan or movie stars from our childhood. When I was a kid, everyone wanted to grow up to be a fire fighter or astronaut. But now? Everyone wants to be an influencer.
The difference is, anyone can become an influencer, meaning the door is wide open for scammers and other people who have no business giving children financial advice. How many times have we seen headlines involving an influencer surrounded in some controversy over the content they posted? It feels like there’s a new article every day, followed up by a teary-eyed apology video from the culprit.
Without real action being taken to speak out against these people, it’s only getting worse, now to the point where some of them don’t even see an issue in stealing from their loyal fanbase. And the worst part is that since these kids are so young, they really don’t even understand they were scammed, they just think that’s how the world works. Sadly, it is the direction we’re headed.
A few days ago I watched Jeff Bezos launch into space, and during the broadcast one of the reporters interviewed a young kid. When asked why he was watching, the kid stated he was fascinated with space flight, and if one man can achieve all of this and open the door to space, why couldn’t he?
Like him or not, Bezos was a positive influence that day. Children need positive influences to show them that they can do great things, and truly change the world if they set their mind to it. My role model when I was growing up was none other than Tony Stark. Even if he was a fictional character and far from perfect, he showed me that even flawed people can change the world for the better (and invent a flying suit of armor, still working on that one).
We need to be showing the children of the world how they can help the world, instead of what they can gain from it. Think about this, would you rather have your kids learning how to scam people from these influencers, or how to change the world from the few good role models we have?