In our social media-driven society, being a celebrity doesn’t only mean living a lavish lifestyle, attending parties, and throwing hundred dollar bills out of Maserati windows. It means having the power and voice to make the world become aware of significant issues.
Most celebrities have a tremendous number of followers on their social media. This already sets up the perfect platform for them to spread information easily and quickly. Many celebrities such as Alyssa Milano, Miley Cyrus, and Leonardo Dicaprio use this advantage to spread awareness of serious world issues.
Alyssa Milano and the #MeToo Movement:
The Twitter-based #MeToo Movement was first launched by activist Tarana Burke in 2006 but did not go viral until in 2017, when one tweet from the actress Alyssa Milano turned this into a worldwide movement battling sexual harassment.
Miley Cyrus on Mass Shooting:
The singer Miley Cyrus has posted several photos on Twitter and Tumblr, of herself in the middle of a protesting crowd that came together to pass gun legislation restricting weapon purchases. These photos were broadcasted to over 43 million of her Twitter followers alone.
Leonardo Dicaprio for Environment:
Leonardo Dicaprio is not only the Oscar-winning Titanic superstar but one of the biggest celebrity activists for the environment. All of his tweets and posts on his Instagram feed are exclusively about major and minor environmental issues, unlike most celebrities who use social media to promote their latest releases and post selfies.
Now, you might be thinking, ‘shouldn’t all celebrities start spreading global issues on their social media?’ But in reality, there are as many negative aspects of this as there are benefits to this phenomenon.
Celebrities are not experts. This means that not all celebrities might have enough information or knowledge to make a strong and true judgment about an issue. There is also a considerable chance that the celebrities would accidentally post wrong information about a topic. A good example of this would be the recent Amazon rainforest fire, where celebrities started posting pictures of the burning Amazon rainforest on their social media platforms to express their anger towards the issue. What is surprising is that many of those celebrities posted photos that did not correctly show the current condition of the rainforest. Many were old pictures that were taken years ago, and some weren’t even of the Amazon.
The photo below was posted by the Juventus football superstar Christiano Ronaldo on Instagram, cautioning his 182 million followers about the fire, writing, “the Amazon Rainforest produces more than 20% of the world’s oxygen and it’s been burning for the past 3 weeks. It’s our responsibility to help to save our planet. #prayforamazonia”. Frankly, the picture was not the Amazon fire but was actually of Brazil’s Taim Ecological Station, taken almost 7 years ago. Moreover, the statement in the caption that Amazon produces more than 20% of the world’s oxygen is incorrect. Although the Amazon rainforest is undoubtedly a natural wonder, it is only capable of producing 6% of the world’s oxygen.
Madonna, similar to Ronaldo, posted a photo on her Instagram to raise awareness of the Amazon fire. However, this picture on Madonna’s Instagram was taken 3 decades ago, in 1981, not showing the current state of the Amazon.
In addition to misinformation, another significant downside of celebrities spreading awareness of an issue is that not all celebrities have a good motive behind this. Some celebrities consider themselves online activists but are more concerned with setting a proper image of themselves to the public than really alerting people about the problem.
However, regardless of those negative sides of celebrities’ social media use of spreading issues, celebrities are still a crucial part of solving world issues. Without celebrities in our society today, many things would be kept quiet and brushed under the rug. People are not afraid to voice their opinions and concerns anymore thanks to celebrities bringing up social issues and politics.