By Crystal Earl
It’s a typical Thursday evening. You’re sitting in your room, scrolling through various social media apps, blissfully ignoring the daunting amount of homework that has built up in your backpack throughout the week. Eventually, you open TikTok, the online world of looping audios and elementary dance choreographies. As usual, you encounter yet another pair of fame-seeking 14-year-olds dancing to “Lottery” by K Camp. As soon as you notice that this seemingly lackluster TikTok has amounted to over a million likes, you sit back and ask yourself, “Why do we give so much fame and attention to teenagers who don’t need or deserve it, and why are these children rewarded for such trivial and inappropriate behaviors?”
Since September of 2017, internet-famous teens have gained popularity through lip-syncing and slightly disturbing eye rolls. Chase Hudson, otherwise known as lilhuddy, at only 17 years-old, has amassed almost 12 million followers on TikTok, as well as 4 million followers on Instagram, but for what? He, like others in the TikTok community, has achieved internet fame for no reasons other than shallow oversexualization and his production of talentless, unoriginal content. This is alarming considering that over 40 percent of the platform’s 1.5 billion users are between ages 10 and 16.
Taking into account that over half of Hudson’s audience are girls under the age of 16, we can reason that his substantial following is largely a result of attraction rather than actual skill or talent. Unfortunately, Hudson is not the only teen to gain success this way. In a little more than 6 months, 15-year-old Charli D’amelio accumulated over 23 million followers by producing the same talentless, thirst-trap content Hudson is known for. For simply staring into a camera and smiling, D’amelio has gained a following greater than the population of Taiwan. In November of last year, Charli held her first meet-and-greet, where she charged her new and growing fanbase $100 to simply meet her. Stranger than that is the fact that 400 children and their parents actually showed up.
Over the summer of 2019, lilhuddy, accompanied by a large group of other TikTok famous boys, planned something similar, but on a far greater scale, traveling around the country to 12 different locations, charging their young fans money to hug and take pictures with him.
Of course it is unfortunate that these teenagers are actually making money off of kids for doing absolutely nothing, but what’s more concerning is the example they are setting to their millions of followers. Essentially, famous TikTokers and other social media stars are teaching children that success does not require hard work, and that they can become popular simply based on the way they look.
This ideology automatically sets people up for failure. Sure, making money off of brand deals and effortless 30-second dance videos does sound enticing, but at the end of the day, it is reflective of the superficial, materialistic world technology has provided us today.
The notion that kids my same age are out there, with millions of followers to influence, is quite scary. Teenagers hardly know how to do things themselves most of the time, so to think that they are setting an example to tons of others across the world is unnerving and scary. The content these teens produce for fame is absurd and substandard, but our willingness to reward such talentless and shallow behavior is even worse. This demonstrates the frightening and ambiguous future of the upcoming generations.