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Proulx: I’m tired of having to vet TikTok influencers

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Collegian | Caden Proulx

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

I watch a lot of TikTok livestreams. Whether it’s to focus on something mindless for a second or because the game they’re playing is just visually stimulating, I love a good rot in bed.

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With the accessibility and popularity of TikTok, almost anyone can become an influencer and establish a fanbase. This seems great in theory, but it also welcomes a lot of ignorant views to circulate in a way that isn’t possible with mainstream celebrities.

I follow a lot of gamers on TikTok and have a group of them I enjoy watching regularly. However, for months, I’ve been confronted with an uncomfortable truth that has made it really hard to trust the people I’m watching. I’ve had streamers who I’ve watched for months make a comment during their lives one day that is just unacceptable, and unfortunately, that means I suddenly have to unfollow and stop supporting a streamer I’ve been supporting for potentially months.

“Mainstream celebrities get canceled like no one’s business for the slightest politically incorrect comment, and it is almost validating to see the world fighting back against hateful views. However, on TikTok, these small-scale influencers face almost no accountability.”

It’s a really icky feeling, especially when you tune in regularly and support by liking the stream or being active in chat. You almost feel like you’ve contributed to their negative beliefs in a way. The other day, I was watching a streamer whose lives I really enjoy watching, and a viewer asked, “Are you accepting of the gay community?” A pretty simple question if you ask me, but upon multiple prompts, this chat was ignored, and about eight people were watching the livestream at the time, and all of them received responses.

I would discount this as an isolated experience; however, it eventually became all too common and spread to other things outside of LGBTQIA+ individuals. Another streamer I watched for a long time was on a livestream making unacceptable jokes and comments about larger-bodied individuals. And just today, I was watching a streamer who was asked their pronouns, and they responded with, “Get out of here with that, man.”

Just resulting from these three experiences, I’ve had to completely stop watching influencers I had supported for a long time and felt pretty safe and comfortable with. The same thing happened with regular influencers on my For You page even before I started watching TikTok livestreams. I would really like someone’s content and give them a follow, only to realize upon clicking their Instagram or scrolling further down on their TikTok account that they have hateful beliefs outwardly visible on the internet.

Mainstream celebrities get canceled like no one’s business for the slightest politically incorrect comment, and it is almost validating to see the world fighting back against hateful views. However, on TikTok, these small-scale influencers face almost no accountability.

I am genuinely exhausted from feeling on edge when a TikTokker doesn’t publicly display their political beliefs, but that’s not a fair thing to ask them to do either. Many TikTokkers won’t make their political beliefs public so they can reach a wider range of viewers, and this is a completely valid thing for them to do.

But imagine loving a streamer, supporting them, watching them every day and then finding out through a quick little comment that they don’t support you as a person — it is pretty devastating.

This new category of celebrity is more accessible to the population, but it has also created a vacuum in which accountability barely exists. While I don’t know the answer to this problem, I do know that I shouldn’t have to vet the influencers I watch in order to feel safe in their stream or comfortable supporting them.

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Reach Caden Proulx at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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About the Contributor
Caden Proulx
Caden Proulx, Print Director
Caden Proulx is a human development and family studies student at Colorado State University pursuing his passion for graphic design at The Collegian. Originally from Austin, Texas, Caden's journalistic journey began in the high school yearbook department, where his passion for design grew. This led to him to seek out student media when he got to Colorado State University. Starting as a page designer in his first year, Caden found a home at The Collegian. This led him to the position of print director his sophomore year. Despite majoring in HDFS, Caden seamlessly integrates his hobby of graphic design with his academic pursuits. The Collegian has become an integral part of his success at CSU. Now firmly rooted in Colorado, Caden is eager to contribute to the student media landscape, The Collegian and its success. He loves working alongside other excited students who are talented and have a lot to teach and push him to continue to grow as a visual journalist.

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