With most of us currently at home binging Bridgerton and finding ways to pass the time in yet another lockdown, it can be hard to comprehend the idea of escaping to a place of exotic bliss anytime soon. Yet, many social media influencers seem to be doing just that.
I’m sure we would all prefer to be floating through the pandemic in the sun and sand, so who could blame them, right? Except this is much more than simple escapism. A recent This Morning interview exposed that some influencers have branded themselves as key workers, meaning their trips to Dubai are classed as essential.
Is this not an insult to our actual key workers? NHS frontline staff are tackling brutal challenges, both mentally and physically, with mental health services stepped up to enable doctors and nurses to continue to provide care to COVID-19 patients. Coronavirus continues to sweep through care homes up and down the country, yet care staff still provide the support needed for these vulnerable people. With much of the UK living in gruelling conditions, is doing sponsored posts in Dubai really essential? Deeming these influencers as key workers diminishes the struggles frontline workers are currently facing; it is almost offensive to put the horrors these workers are facing on a par with influencers ‘working’ by posting photos of themselves in Dubai.
"Deeming these influencers as key workers diminishes the struggles frontline workers are currently facing; it is almost offensive to put the horrors these workers are facing on a par with influencers ‘working’ by posting photos of themselves in Dubai."
There is no doubt that being a social media influencer can be a full-time job, however, this does not need to mean travelling to Dubai during a national lockdown. Countless influencers have followed government advice by staying at home and have still managed to continue working; being adaptable is crucial in any workplace so there is no exception, even if you are a social media influencer. Joe Wicks has resumed his ‘PE with Joe’ live streams from his house with no airs and graces, continually motivating adults and children up and down the country. Influencers that we can identify with are likely to be more motivational than those living a life of luxury miles and miles away, especially during such tricky times.
This third lockdown may be the most difficult of all, with unimaginable death tolls and morale noticeably lower than back in April. Although this could be down to ‘less exercise and more TV’ as we attempt to cope and survive. Increased social media use could also be a contributing factor, with more and more hours at home in winter months meaning more time to scroll endlessly through Instagram; often Instagram only points at the glamourised part of someone’s life, disguising their real behaviour. Seeing numerous bikini-clad influencers elegantly perched on golden sand beaches whilst we are still in our pyjamas at 3pm is not exactly the greatest motivator in an already stressful situation. These parades of luxury strip away the sense of community felt last March, deflating public belief that the pandemic will ever actually be over, and we will eventually be able to travel in the same way these influencers are.
"These parades of luxury strip away the sense of community felt last March, deflating public belief that the pandemic will ever actually be over"
However, this feeling of entitlement to travel to Dubai in the midst of the pandemic is nothing to do with being an influencer. It is more centred on the character and selfishness of the individuals themselves. Love Island stars are amongst those escaping lockdown in the UK in favour of Dubai, and yet, Dr Alex George (whose fame also originated from Love Island) has utilised his platform in a much different way. He gives insights to his days working on the frontline at A&E in University Hospital Lewisham on his social media, whilst simultaneously stressing the importance of mental health support during the pandemic. Is this not what an influencer should be? Laura Anderson, on the same series of Love Island as Alex, flew to Dubai as a ‘coping mechanism’ before the third lockdown. Whilst the impacts of lockdown on mental health cannot be disputed, she and many others have inevitably put a considerable amount of lives at risk. Would it not be better to remain at home and know that you don’t have the blood of over 100,000 lives on your hands?
Not only do their actions put the public in the UK at risk upon returning home, it has also now affected residents within Dubai. The United Arab Emirates has now been put on the UK’s ‘red list’ meaning travel to the UK from there is banned. Although this is to protect the UK from the new variant, it throws into question the impact British holidaymakers and social media influencers have had on COVID-19 cases in the area. The blame has been firmly placed on these individuals since their so-called ‘business trips’ "coincided with the rising case count in the UAE", bringing coronavirus in their luggage with little regard for the danger this puts myriads of people in. Yet these are the same people who are worshipped on social media. Are these really the type of role models we should be scrolling through day-in and day-out?
The influx of apology statements and videos from influencers after backlash from the public may seem sincere, but it is just too little too late. If people had not have responded negatively, they would have continued to post carefree sun-kissed pictures without realising the impact. Though their efforts to ‘motivate’ their followers may have good intentions, their detachment from the realities of living in a pandemic are put on display in their lavish posts. With the world suffering heartache, these social media influencers are mocking the continued effort to return to normality, adding frustration to the public who have to deal with the effects of reckless individuals everyday.