Selfies and Influencers

 

 I recently read  this article about fatal accidents while taking selfies.  A study documented 400 over a 13 year period, including 77 in the US.  Most involved drownings or falls from high places.  This quote from the study author stood out:  

The mean age of reported victims was 22 years old — and they were mostly female tourists. “I was surprised that when I drilled down in this way, young females were implicated the most,” Cornell noted.”

This researcher must have been the only person world wide surprised that young women were the most frequent victims.  A few were mentioned in this account from the Daily Mail, and one said that “Sofia Cheung, an Instagram star, is shown above in her last Instagram post. She died in 2021 after losing her footing and slipping at a waterfall” and went on to note that she had 35,000 followers on Instagram. The picture is an earlier selfie of Ms Cheung.

This got me to thinking of the broader issue of social media “influencers”.  I find this very difficult to understand.  Who do they influence?  Apparently young women.  I’ve had social media accounts for some time; mostly to keep up with friends and family.  I can’t think of anyone I follow who would fit in this category, but maybe I’m not paying attention.

There is such a weird desperate quality to all of it.  Sofia Cheung died for attention.  It makes me sad but I’m a little concerned about the fact that I don’t get it at all.  I think you can draw a fairly direct connection between the need for social media and the raging anti-Semitic rallies which appear to be more protest theater than actual protest for Gen Z.  We may be more lost than I already feared.  

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  1. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    More evidence that social media is  toxic to young females.  Now I hear that they are converting to Islam on Tik Tok.  

    • #1
  2. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Darwin Awards exist for a reason. We thought it was for young men.

    • #2
  3. Franco Member
    Franco
    @Franco

    Back in the 70’s they ( actually pot smoking hippies) in response to influx of methamphetemines came up with the direct slogan “Speed Kills”, later adopted by everyone . It’s a horrible drug. I know.  

    But the drug of public admiration –  or just recognition on any level – 30,000 followers isn’t especially impressive in the ocean of millions of followers, but these people are swimming in their own ponds.  It’s quite normal to an allow your followers to sculpt your persona attach your ego and identity to that direction your fans like. It’s symbiotic.

    What’s ironic is she was effectively interacting in the dangerous physical world for her followers who are living through others from a safety of their boring (real) lives. She’s a circus performer whose luck ran out. 

    Our brains are manufacturing chemicals and neurons are firing continuously. Our internal’drugs’ dopamine,  adrenaline etc  are activated virtually via the media. 
    People who watch thrillers, action films and horror are variously addicted to adrenaline 

    Narcissism Kills 

    • #3
  4. Some Call Me ...Tim Coolidge
    Some Call Me ...Tim
    @SomeCallMeTim

    I understand how someone could fall when taking a selfie, but how do you manage to drown?

    • #4
  5. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr
    @Tex929rr

    Some Call Me …Tim (View Comment):

    I understand how someone could fall when taking a selfie, but how do you manage to drown?

    Here is the story.  “Cheung was with her friends at the park on Saturday, July 10 when she decided to take a picture next to the falls. She lost her footing, say witnesses, and fell approximately five metres (16 feet) into the falls’ pool below.”

    • #5
  6. Al French Moderator
    Al French
    @AlFrench

    If someone could explain how the “influencing” system works, I’d appreciate it.

    • #6
  7. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Al French (View Comment):

    If someone could explain how the “influencing” system works, I’d appreciate it.

    As would we all.

    • #7
  8. Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist Coolidge
    Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist
    @Flicker

    It seems to me that there have always been daredevils.  Sword swallowers and flame eaters, to putting your head under and elephant’s foot, to triple somersaults on the high wire or the trapeze, to lion tamers, to going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, to swimming the English Channel, to Evel Knievel.  To more mundane illegal drag racing, prizefighting, and 200nph racing.  And dang, mountain climbing Everest.  People like to do it for attention and profit, others like to pay to see it, and sometimes watch with morbid enthusiasm for, oh no, an injury or even death.

    People apparently like the challenge of defying death, and to see other people do it.

    • #8
  9. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Al French (View Comment):

    If someone could explain how the “influencing” system works, I’d appreciate it.

    As would we all.

    As I understand it, social media influencing is a variation of celebrity endorsements.

    A person does something (makeup, fashion, hair styling, sewing, crafting, cooking, gardening, farming, woodworking, auto repairing or rebuilding, truck driving, whatever) and posts photos and videos of that thing on social media with enough consistency to gain a following of audience members (“followers”) who are interested in that thing or skill or whatever. Thus the person posting the material becomes a type of celebrity.

    Audience members who like what the poster does want to emulate the person posting. So audience members copy things from the posting person. Because audience members adopt products, techniques, or other elements that the posting person shows on social media, the posting person “influences” the audience’s activities and purchases. Just as people want to wear the shoes or the hairstyle that a sports celebrity wears, so the sports celebrity “influences” his audience. 

    If a social media poster has enough followers and/or can show (by checking the followers’ social media accounts) that a high percentage of the poster’s followers buy products (clothing, fashion accessories, tools, etc.) or visit businesses (stores, restaurants, hotels, cruise ships, etc.) the poster uses or talks about or shows, the poster can try to persuade merchants to provide the poster free products or services, or to pay the poster cash, in exchange for the poster promoting the products or businesses in the poster’s social media postings. To the merchant, this exchange is part of the advertising budget, as it substitutes for advertising previously purchased in traditional media. 

    A challenge has arisen that measuring the effectiveness of marketing through social media “influencers” is even fuzzier than measuring the effectiveness of traditional advertising. There has been recent concern that merchants are overpaying for social media “influence,” but they’re still figuring out how to know whether that’s true. 

    • #9
  10. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Tex929rr: This got me to thinking of the broader issue of social media “influencers”.  I find this very difficult to understand.  Who do they influence?  Apparently young women.  I’ve had social media accounts for some time; mostly to keep up with friends and family.  I can’t think of anyone I follow who would fit in this category, but maybe I’m not paying attention.

    There are several people who I follow on YouTube (not always considered a “social media” platform, but still is part of the “influencer” culture) because they teach me about the businesses that they are in that are very different from the businesses in which I have worked. The ones I follow happen to mostly be farming and trucking. I suppose they could be considered social media “influencers.” Some of them do have big enough audiences that advertisers buy ads (often for farm equipment), and some have Amazon affiliate links for tools. But the posting people themselves do not call themselves “influencers,” and do not go out of their way to promote another business. For the people I watch social media is not primary. Social media is ancillary to their primary business of farming or truck driving or ownership. So they do not behave as the stereotypical social media “influencer.” 

    • #10
  11. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    They’re expressed in different ways, but I’ve long noticed that females actually push each other around more than males do.

    • #11
  12. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    A challenge has arisen that measuring the effectiveness of marketing through social media “influencers” is even fuzzier than measuring the effectiveness of traditional advertising.

    I like it when things (other than election vote totals) are not measurable.  

    • #12
  13. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    Even in a group of women I connect to on social media, all of us being  over 60, there are far too many cell phone photos of pretty sunsets, rainbows and oddball trees  or waterfalls taken by  some of these women as they truck on down the highway.

    Given that my rural community has roads cut through hills and curves that take any driver’s  near total attention, I wonder how these women have managed to stay alive.

    Some months ago, I rounded a hill to come to a section of highway where cars had stopped in front of me. As I approached, I saw  that a head on crash had occurred. I waited it out, passed by the wreckage, and from the safety of my home, posted about it. The only reason I did that was so neighbors would know to avoid that section of highway & take the alt route as they commuted home.

    I was admonished by several people for not parking on the narrow road, jumping from my car and video-ing the scene.

    Like the emergency personnel  need amateur film makers clogging up the pathway to the accident victims!

    20 years ago, I might have been asked if the EMT’s were already there, and if not, had I stopped to help. These days that is not very much on people’s minds. Everything is about being a social influencer.

    • #13
  14. Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist Coolidge
    Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist
    @Flicker

    As far as social media influencers go, they seem to be people like celebrity endorsers but who have no known reason for their celebrity other than having an engaging personality, and getting their faces in front of the public more than most, often by simply being provocative.  This includes broadcasting death defying feats.

    I am reminded of Baltimore’s Richard S., a local newsreader who in 1978 began hosting a local talk show called People Are Talking with an inexperienced co-host Oprah W.  His show was on par with Oprah’s part-time position of hosting Dialing or Dollars a five minute afternoon prize show spot in which a people would call in to answer a question with a chance to win $5.  They both were on the level of, and would have seamlessly fit into WKRP in Cincinnati.  Oprah moved to Chicago, but Richard remained in the ignominious shadows for the rest of his life, except for a brief bio on wikipedia.  I wonder if he has ever thought of Oprah over the past fifty years.

    I once saw an episode People Are Talking that compelled me to write Richard a critical note, and at the end I explained that he was a television personality and people should expect better from those they look up to.  “Personality” was the only way I knew to name his profession.  And a few years later I heard a newsreader with more presence and authority use the same word in the same way, so maybe I didn’t think of it myself.

    Richard S. had a MA in Communications, and really had no expertise other than getting his image on the air.  And yet he could have presided at the opening of local shops and cut the ribbon with a more enthusiastic By Grabthar’s Hammer… than Alan Rickman could muster.

    It seems to me that that’s all that celebrity endorsers are.  Old-style television personalities, whose looks, personality and self-exposure somehow give them a following to one degree or another.  And like looks, personalities also often fade or fall out of style.  So they must get what they can while they’re hot.

    • #14
  15. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Gossamer Cat (View Comment):

    More evidence that social media is toxic to young females. Now I hear that they are converting to Islam on Tik Tok.

    If being trans won’t get you the attention you crave, then wearing a hijab might do the trick. 

    • #15
  16. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr
    @Tex929rr

    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill (View Comment):

    Some months ago, I rounded a hill to come to a section of highway where cars had stopped in front of me. As I approached, I saw that a head on crash had occurred. I waited it out, passed by the wreckage, and from the safety of my home, posted about it. The only reason I did that was so neighbors would know to avoid that section of highway & take the alt route as they commuted home.

    I was admonished by several people for not parking on the narrow road, jumping from my car and video-ing the scene.

    Like the emergency personnel need amateur film makers clogging up the pathway to the accident victims!

    20 years ago, I might have been asked if the EMT’s were already there, and if not, had I stopped to help. These days that is not very much on people’s minds. Everything is about being a social influencer.

    I can’t begin to tell you what an enormous problem that has become for us, particularly on the interstate.  Aside from the clogging up the road and picture taking (people will video a corpse until we cover it up, and even after that), the odds of a follow on accident are huge.  Usually just fender benders, but sometimes worse.

    That’s a massive failure of some basic social rules.

    • #16
  17. John H. Member
    John H.
    @JohnH

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Darwin Awards exist for a reason. We thought it was for young men.

    “Here, hold my beer.” I doubt that today’s deadly-earnest influencers ever say that.

    • #17
  18. Chris B Member
    Chris B
    @ChrisB

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Al French (View Comment):

    If someone could explain how the “influencing” system works, I’d appreciate it.

    As I understand it, social media influencing is a variation of celebrity endorsements.

    A person does something (makeup, fashion, hair styling, sewing, crafting, cooking, gardening, farming, woodworking, auto repairing or rebuilding, truck driving, whatever) and posts photos and videos of that thing on social media with enough consistency to gain a following of audience members (“followers”) who are interested in that thing or skill or whatever. Thus the person posting the material becomes a type of celebrity.

    Audience members who like what the poster does want to emulate the person posting. So audience members copy things from the posting person. Because audience members adopt products, techniques, or other elements that the posting person shows on social media, the posting person “influences” the audience’s activities and purchases. Just as people want to wear the shoes or the hairstyle that a sports celebrity wears, so the sports celebrity “influences” his audience.

    If a social media poster has enough followers and/or can show (by checking the followers’ social media accounts) that a high percentage of the poster’s followers buy products (clothing, fashion accessories, tools, etc.) or visit businesses (stores, restaurants, hotels, cruise ships, etc.) the poster uses or talks about or shows, the poster can try to persuade merchants to provide the poster free products or services, or to pay the poster cash, in exchange for the poster promoting the products or businesses in the poster’s social media postings. To the merchant, this exchange is part of the advertising budget, as it substitutes for advertising previously purchased in traditional media.

    This is a pretty good summary. One of my former classmates is in the business. Done well, it can be extremely lucrative. I’d not sure exactly how much she makes from advertisers and sponsors, but I know her husband quit his 6 figure job with great benefits at the FAA to become her full time production assistant.

    • #18
  19. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill (View Comment):

    Some months ago, I rounded a hill to come to a section of highway where cars had stopped in front of me. As I approached, I saw that a head on crash had occurred. I waited it out, passed by the wreckage, and from the safety of my home, posted about it. The only reason I did that was so neighbors would know to avoid that section of highway & take the alt route as they commuted home.

    I was admonished by several people for not parking on the narrow road, jumping from my car and video-ing the scene.

    Like the emergency personnel need amateur film makers clogging up the pathway to the accident victims!

    20 years ago, I might have been asked if the EMT’s were already there, and if not, had I stopped to help. These days that is not very much on people’s minds. Everything is about being a social influencer.

    I can’t begin to tell you what an enormous problem that has become for us, particularly on the interstate. Aside from the clogging up the road and picture taking (people will video a corpse until we cover it up, and even after that), the odds of a follow on accident are huge. Usually just fender benders, but sometimes worse.

    That’s a massive failure of some basic social rules.

    As an elder care worker for almost 30 years, I had a good many friends who were EMT’s.

    Because of that, I tend to view things with consideration to how my actions might affect theirs.

    Over the last 25 years, first the public began to ignore paying attention to sirens, flashing lights & even their  being tail gated as  ambulance drivers, fire truck personnel  & police needed the public to pull off on the shoulder.

    Now the public  thinks their right to video  anything happening in public supersedes the necessity of the first responders to get to survivors of an accident!

     

     

     

    • #19
  20. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Chris B (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Al French (View Comment):

    If someone could explain how the “influencing” system works, I’d appreciate it.

    As I understand it, social media influencing is a variation of celebrity endorsements.

    A person does something (makeup, fashion, hair styling, sewing, crafting, cooking, gardening, farming, woodworking, auto repairing or rebuilding, truck driving, whatever) and posts photos and videos of that thing on social media with enough consistency to gain a following of audience members (“followers”) who are interested in that thing or skill or whatever. Thus the person posting the material becomes a type of celebrity.

    Audience members who like what the poster does want to emulate the person posting. So audience members copy things from the posting person. Because audience members adopt products, techniques, or other elements that the posting person shows on social media, the posting person “influences” the audience’s activities and purchases. Just as people want to wear the shoes or the hairstyle that a sports celebrity wears, so the sports celebrity “influences” his audience.

    If a social media poster has enough followers and/or can show (by checking the followers’ social media accounts) that a high percentage of the poster’s followers buy products (clothing, fashion accessories, tools, etc.) or visit businesses (stores, restaurants, hotels, cruise ships, etc.) the poster uses or talks about or shows, the poster can try to persuade merchants to provide the poster free products or services, or to pay the poster cash, in exchange for the poster promoting the products or businesses in the poster’s social media postings. To the merchant, this exchange is part of the advertising budget, as it substitutes for advertising previously purchased in traditional media.

    This is a pretty good summary. One of my former classmates is in the business. Done well, it can be extremely lucrative. I’d not sure exactly how much she makes from advertisers and sponsors, but I know her husband quit his 6 figure job with great benefits at the FAA to become her full time production assistant.

    Not exactly the same thing, but the son of a co-worker is a youtuber who produces videos of a specific computer game.  He’s early 20s, pulling down near six figures/year doing it.  Paid cash for a brand new car last year.

    • #20
  21. Fritz Coolidge
    Fritz
    @Fritz

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill (View Comment):

    Some months ago, I rounded a hill to come to a section of highway where cars had stopped in front of me. As I approached, I saw that a head on crash had occurred. I waited it out, passed by the wreckage, and from the safety of my home, posted about it. The only reason I did that was so neighbors would know to avoid that section of highway & take the alt route as they commuted home.

    I was admonished by several people for not parking on the narrow road, jumping from my car and video-ing the scene.

    Like the emergency personnel need amateur film makers clogging up the pathway to the accident victims!

    20 years ago, I might have been asked if the EMT’s were already there, and if not, had I stopped to help. These days that is not very much on people’s minds. Everything is about being a social influencer.

    I can’t begin to tell you what an enormous problem that has become for us, particularly on the interstate. Aside from the clogging up the road and picture taking (people will video a corpse until we cover it up, and even after that), the odds of a follow on accident are huge. Usually just fender benders, but sometimes worse.

    That’s a massive failure of some basic social rules.

    So, it’s “antisocial media,” then.

    • #21
  22. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    In an old book…I believe it was Fielding’s ‘Tom Jones’…a woman collects that names of visitors to her house, and finds it very pleasant to go through the names of prominent people who have visited her.

    Very similar to collecting Likes online, I thought.

    • #22
  23. kylez Member
    kylez
    @kylez

    @flicker do you remember what prompted you to write the letter?

    • #23
  24. Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist Coolidge
    Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist
    @Flicker

    kylez (View Comment):

    @ flicker do you remember what prompted you to write the letter?

    Yes.  Well, since you asked.  At the time everyone was following Barbara Walter’s advice to interviewers to get personal and ask people, How did you feel?  And Richard and Oprah were interviewing two people.  One was a skeezy nebbishy guy who had been in prison for a non-violent crime, and a model prisoner who after some few years and came out complaining that everyone in prison had no (acceptable) sexual release and some inmates were making it very uncomfortable for other inmates.  And he came up with an idea for reducing sexual tension in prisons and he started a charitable organization that brought upstanding housewives — thoroughly checked — into prisons to have conjugal visits with upstanding inmates — interestingly,  this service was not provided to the aggressive inmates which I think would have been the point, but to people like himself.

    And the other guest was a frumpy housewife who was one of the volunteers who went into prisons to have sex with inmates.  And Richard couldn’t wait to get to the meat of the interview and switched from the sociological aspects of the charity and asked with a mix of grave concern and great interest, How did you feel when you were having sex with these prisoners?  I mean during the act?!

    The woman was somewhat nonplussed and uncomfortable at the question and after collecting her composure said it felt like, you know, just sex, and repeated that she did it only to bring some relief to the poor suffering inmates, before they cut to a commercial.

    It was truly WKRP level stuff.  Les Nessman.  Come to think of it at that time WKRP was in its original run.

    • #24
  25. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    Tex929rr (View Comment):
    I can’t begin to tell you what an enormous problem that has become for us, particularly on the interstate.  Aside from the clogging up the road and picture taking (people will video a corpse until we cover it up, and even after that), the odds of a follow on accident are huge.

    When it comes to death notification, we call it “racing Facebook.” We’ve had people finding out via instagram that their loved one is dead or, worse, a friend or relative actually sends them images of the death (the mother of a shooting victim received a video on her I-phone as the officers and chaplain arrived at the door). 

     

    • #25
  26. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    When it comes to death notification, we call it “racing Facebook.” We’ve had people finding out via instagram that their loved one is dead or, worse, a friend or relative actually sends them images of the death (the mother of a shooting victim received a video on her I-phone as the officers and chaplain arrived at the door).

     

    The October 7 terrorists amplified the horror of their deeds the same way.  

    • #26
  27. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    The ultimate evolutionary reason for men showing off in risky ways is probably…to demonstrate their courage to other men and to impress women.

    The ultimate evolutionary reason for women showing off in risky ways is..?

    • #27
  28. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    In the horse show world they are called “brand ambassadors.”  Click through or get enough people to use the promo code and you could score a sponsorship.  Sponsors give you banners to hang at horse shows which drive sales and generate income.  For big name professional riders, the sponsors come to them; for teen girls or young professionals, it’s instant bona fides in the industry.

    • #28
  29. Taras Coolidge
    Taras
    @Taras

    David Foster (View Comment):

    The ultimate evolutionary reason for men showing off in risky ways is probably…to demonstrate their courage to other men and to impress women.

    The ultimate evolutionary reason for women showing off in risky ways is..?

    Drawing attention to oneself may tend to increase the pool of potential mates, especially if daredevilry is valued within a woman’s social circle.

     

    • #29
  30. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    Taras (View Comment):

    David Foster (View Comment):

    The ultimate evolutionary reason for men showing off in risky ways is probably…to demonstrate their courage to other men and to impress women.

    The ultimate evolutionary reason for women showing off in risky ways is..?

    Drawing attention to oneself may tend to increase the pool of potential mates, especially if daredevilry is valued within a woman’s social circle.

     

    Perhaps…

    But how often are these daredevil influencers…ahem…scantily clad?

     

    • #30
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