There is a dark side to social media, especially on YouTube and TikTok. A toxic culture arises when the creator and viewer feed off each other. If a creator has a leaning toward narcissistic behaviour, they will give their followers a false impression that they are in their inner circle, that somehow they made it into the ‘cool kids’ club. They’ll use a lot of words to draw you in, such as ‘you are my family, you are part of my community,” They’ll give their little tribe of followers a corporate pet name perhaps.
In reality, the narcissistic creator (**not all YouTube or TikTok creators are narcissistic**) use a lot of flattery with whomever they can, hoping to get their followers hooked by giving them a false impression that they’ve gained special access to them beyond the screen. Somehow, they’ve landed in the ‘in’ crowd. They learn the ‘secret’ insider jokes, etc. They have a false sense of belonging. These aren’t just huge channels; on the contrary, I’ve seen greater damage done in smaller channels.
I have seen too many isolated, lonely people get sucked into the machine and spit out the other side by creators doing whatever they can to get higher revenue, or they just get a kick out of manipulating people. They enjoy the hero-worship.
And then creators aren’t in it for the likes, views, or monetary or celebrity status. They aren’t driven to build an audience, they simply want to share their lives with their friends, and if more new friends happen to be made as they share their life, it’s a bonus. The difference is so easy to see. It’s never about ‘them’; it’s always about others; it’s bringing others into their life that brings them joy. There’s never any clickbait; there is never any drama; there is never any tearing down or gossiping about other YouTube channels or Tiktok followers. They are too busy enjoying life and have no time to go wading in the swamp.
Eventually, though, it’s all bound to crash down around the narcissists and manipulators. Hear this; It’s nothing to play with. Eventually, they’ll have to pay the piper, this side or the other side of eternity. They’ll have to give an account for the destruction they left behind.
I have seen broken people spiral into a deeper depression, retreat deeper into themselves, and close themselves off from the rest of the world, feeling embarrassed they got duped. And the narcissist? If and when their make-believe little empire collapses, they’ll just find a new home.
Be kind to each other, prefer one another above oneself, lead by following Christ’s example, speak the truth that glistens with love and hope, walk away from those with slandering tongues. By doing so, you’ll make a positive difference in your world. Choose to be a light on YouTube. Take a stand for kindness in your comments on TikTok.
All Bible references, unless indicated, are from the NASB 1995 edition.
©2021 Katherine Walden