The Truth is Powerful

Our Attention Economy Gives Abusers a Free Pass

Seemingly frivolous internet stars like James Charles and David Dobrik play a significant role in our culture, especially since adults have better things to do than pay attention to TikTok star drama. Kids crave authenticity in an age of make-believe, and the informal and confessional nature of YouTube, TikTok, and Twitter grants a degree of authenticity and attainability to social media celebrities that traditional stars lack.

This unprecedented level of “relatability” and the popularity of more candid content evidently plays a part in many YouTube success stories. Moreover, their content is completely free to watch any place, any time, for as long as we want. More than any other time in human history, we are surrounded by the cult of the celebrity. That comes with its dangers.

It emerged recently that 21-year-old James Charles, a beauty guru with over 25 million subscribers, sent sexually explicit images and messages to a 16-year-old boy. Charles denied knowledge of the fan’s age, which brings into question why he thought it was appropriate to exchange messages of such a nature with an unverified and evidently young user. The incident has largely gone ignored by Charles’ fanbase and the mainstream media, although fans with similar testimonies […]

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