The world of online social media influencers seems to be wider and more menacing than celebrities covertly shilling, a phenomenon that I wrote about yesterday. People who have not acquired fame elsewhere in other fields can apparently become purely YouTube and Instagram celebrities with a whole lot of passionate fans who follow the minutiae of their adored one’s lives with almost obsessive devotion. I wrote earlier about this phenomenon in China but it is apparently big here in the US too.
Take this bizarre story about a group of fans of such a social media celebrity named Alissa Violet who threatened all manner of revenge when she posted a video of herself with a swollen eye and a bloody lip and claimed that she and her boyfriend had been mistreated in a Cleveland bar. Her fans went nuts, shutting down the club’s website, posting scathing reviews on the Yelp site, and threatening the bar and random people in Cleveland whom they thought had been responsible for their icon’s distress.
Violet’s fans view her not as just a celebrity but one of their closest friends. She posts daily videos about her life in Los Angeles, photos of recent modeling shoots, jokes, and personal stories on Twitter and Snapchat. She tends to her legion by faving tweets, shouting out fans, and making her followers feel like they’re intimately involved in every detail of her life.
Her online army dedicates an enormous amount of time to watching her videos, commenting on her posts, and setting up stan accounts in her likeness. When they saw someone had hurt her on Saturday night, that fanbase didn’t ask questions.
You have to read the article to really get the flavor of all that her fans did. What generates this devotion that goes well beyond what one would consider normal fan behavior?
Oddly enough, a search on the web did not find any local news media covering this story. All the coverage was by what looked like online magazines and gossip sites, creating a whole lot of sound and fury that may have ultimately signified nothing.
The strange thing is that I have never heard of fans of more conventional celebrities (film stars, musicians) behaving in this way.