Dear influencers: Stop using ‘be kind’ as an excuse to be a dick in the pandemic

Your photoshoot is not essential work, stay at home and be kind to the NHS

In recent months influencers have been jetting off to places such as Dubai to escape the sad reality of the national lockdown restrictions. Most influencers have not even tried to hide it: a quick scroll down their Instagram pages shows pictures of them on a beach or partying with friends. They’ve escaped to Dubai very publicly, which has led to a backlash from their followers. And people are quite rightly fuming influencers have chosen to use their platforms for promoting trips abroad during a pandemic, while the rest of us sit patiently at home.

Some influencers have chosen to ignore the response (which is probably quite easy when you are sunbathing on a hot sandy beach in Dubai) whilst some have tried to explain their intentions, saying their work is “essential” and they need to travel to provide content for their followers. Influencers have also told people to “be kind”, in response to negative comments about their holidays.

Whilst hateful comments and online bullying is a serious issue that shouldn’t be tolerated, it’s not right for influencers to brush off any criticism of their selfish actions as hate and jump on the #BeKind movement.

Criticising influencers is not the same as hate

There have been calls to unfollow influencers to strip away their powers to influence people. This week Sheridan, an influencer, was interviewed on This Morning and responded to the anger she had faced by travelling to Dubai.

In the interview, she says: “I think in a world where you can be anything, be kind and I think a lot of people forget about that.”

In response, Holly Willoughby said: “When we see how stretched the NHS is and those nurses that are working really really hard and all they are saying is “Please stay home, please stay home, do the right thing, stay home”.

“You’re saying “be kind”, but are you being kind by then encouraging others to travel for what you deem as essential work?”

The ‘Be Kind’ message gained prominence after the death of Caroline Flack, who posted a picture to her Instagram account with the caption “In a world where you can be anything, be kind” two months before her death.

This pandemic hasn’t been kind to any of us, and many people are seriously struggling with their mental health. Being kind to each other is something we all definitely need to do, but it doesn’t go against “be kind” to simply call influencers out for what they’re doing by travelling all over the world during a pandemic.

The NHS is under enormous strain with the number of people who have been admitted to hospital with coronavirus. Doctors, nurses, carers and other healthcare professionals have had to FaceTime family members of patients with coronavirus as they are unable to see them in hospital. This is all happened whilst influencers are meeting up with friends and going to parties in Dubai.

Sheridan says that she is not trying to influence anyone to come out to Dubai. But isn’t this the reason people follow influencers, to be influenced?

Whilst influencers do put up with a lot of hate and horrible stuff said to them on social media, calling an influencer selfish during a pandemic is not the same. The UK has now had over 100,000 deaths due to coronavirus and this number is rising. A national lockdown is in place to try to combat the virus and we are all under strict instructions to stay at home, why do influencers feel as though they are above the rules?

Influencers need to take responsibility for their actions

Influencers cannot use the #BeKind movement to prevent outrage over the selfish decisions they have made themselves. Whilst it is infuriating that they are flying across the world during a pandemic, they could show their followers some respect by at least owning their actions and say they have travelled to Dubai to get away from the lockdown in the UK.

Hiding behind the farce of an “essential work trip” is not only patronising to their followers but it makes it clear that influencers do not care about the devastating consequences Covid-19 has had.

Influencers may be ready to throw out the words “be kind” as soon as someone gives them criticism (not hate), but they really need to think to themselves are they being kind by flaunting their wealth and holidays in the faces of their followers who have lost jobs and family members because of coronavirus?

Influencers using the #BeKind movement to justify month-long holidays during a pandemic are insulting people who are using the movement to raise awareness for mental health. Take some responsibility for your actions and just stop going on holiday during a pandemic, like the rest of us are. And if you’re still following influencers and are sick of them too, you know where the unfollow button is.

If you or someone you know has been affected by this story, please speak to someone or contact Samaritans on 116 123 at any time. You can also contact Anxiety UK on 03444 775 774, Mind on 0300 123 3393, and Calm (Campaign against living miserably, for men aged 15 to 35) on 0800 58 58 58.

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Featured image via ITV and Instagram @geesteelx