When chasing social media clout goes awry

Adan Sanchez, Staff Writer

Clout chasing has always been a staple of internet culture stemming from the early 2010s into the 2020s and has also blown up controversial personalities like Lil Tay, Rice Gum, the Paul brothers, the Stokes twins, Woah Vicky, and Bhad Bhabie.
‘Likes’ and ‘followers’ have been the main sources of these challenges or trends that have gotten increasingly intense over how well the videos and trends take off.
The most infamous of trends that took the internet by storm were the classic “Just a prank bro” YouTube pranks (kudos if you did that with a frat boy voice) that resulted in a site-wide frenzy that took off between 2012-2017. Imagine someone doing something that ticks someone off, and then directly starting to harass the person for taking offense to it, shouting things like “It’s only a prank!” and “Why are you getting so upset over it?”
This had brought controversies within the internet, but it wasn’t fully gotten over until a particular person had entered the spotlight:Sam Pepper.
Sam Pepper had started his reign as one of the most infamous examples of what it means to have clout go to your head. Sam uploaded a video in 2014 titled, “Fake Hand Ass Pinch Prank” in which Sam had rigged a fake hand behind his waist and would grope unsuspecting women with said hand. This video wasn’t received well by the internet and multiple women, later identified as a troll mob, came forward with allegations of sexual harassment from Sam.
His biggest scandal would come from a video titled, “Killing Best Friend Prank” featuringtwo other influencers: Sam Golbach, and Colby Brock.
The video depicted Pepper kidnapping Golbach and stuffing him into the back of a car, the video resumes with a shot of Golbach and Brock both tied, while Pepper unmasked Golbach. Golbach would plead with the masked character until the illusion of Brock being shot was shown. The graphic nature of the content caused the video to gain mass attention across the nation and even in other countries.
Pepper apologized for this video and admitted that it was a prank video, but it didn’t save him from falling into obscurity.
Another great instance of clout chasing came from Internet challenges that started to take form in 2016 and started with more innocent challenges such as Slime Challenges, The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Trashtag Challenge, and Bottle Flipping.
But, these challenges took a dangerous turn and evolved into people eating Tide Pods. Consumption of these packets would result in participants being poisoned by the chemicals present within the packets.
Another challenge that also gained mass popularity would be the Bird Box challenge. It was a challenge that started as Twitch streamers playing video games blindfolded but quickly morphed into people attempting daily tasks while blindfolded. These included tasks such as driving, walking, and cooking. This would lead to multiple instances where law enforcement and safety officials had to warn about potential dangers from this challenge. At some point, people would often question why so many people would participate in these challenges, and why someone would lack the common sense to not drive blindfolded, but these only scratched the surface of challenges that caused real-life injury and harm to participants.
Clout chasing can only go so far, but sometimes it can cause another person to change their entire persona overnight as the clout and growth can quickly get to their head. Nikocado Avocado quickly gained attention and growth in his channel as he started as a vegan activist and would post vlogs of him and his partner, trying different vegan dishes and even documenting important life events such as his wedding, vacations, and even collaborations with other fellow vegan influencers. However, in 2016 he would drop veganism, citing it as a ¨mentally unstable” community, and would begin a dive into a new internet craze known as Mukbang.
Mukbang is a popular trend where the participant eats copious amounts of food in front of a camera generating ASMR sounds in the background while the participant continues to eat. Nikocado Avocado had started to indulge in this craze and would differ far from the vegan YouTuber’s origin. Nikocado threw a spin on this trend where in the middle of his Mukbang he would talk about topics that ranged from drama or controversial topics. This wouldn’t last long as it would quickly become jumbled rants and would spiral into Nikocado acting absurd on camera. He is actively facing health concerns now over the large amounts of food he’s consumed.
Sometimes these influencers are often forced to play an act for an audience to gain attention and a following. Lil Tay was an internet persona who rose to popularity in 2018 and was played by Claire Hope, who was just nine years old when she started as a ‘flexing’ personality who would flaunt expensive homes, cars, clothes, and jewelry.
She would become notorious for flexing items and property that she claimed to own, and would eventually start ¨flexing on¨ bigger influencers like Jake and Logan Paul, and would even get thrown into drama with Woah Vicky and Bhad Bhabie. However, in the same year, she came into the spotlight when her mom, who worked as a realtor, was fired from her job after Lil Tay was confirmed to be filming inside of homes that belonged to the Boss her mother worked for. In May of 2018, footage that highlighted how Lil Tay was a personality and Claire was being used by her brother to make these absurd videos. Her brother would be heard in the video coaching her on what and what not to say. Lil Tay as a persona would eventually die off, before resurfacing in a legal custody battle, in which a post on her Instagram story in 2021 would ask followers for donations to keep custody of Claire over her father. The story claimed that her father was abusive and wanted to hold Claire hostage.
The final instance of clout going completely wrong would stem from false allegations made by a person to make another character look bad to damage someone’s reputation or career. The bulk of these allegations would stem from he said, she said, but in some cases it would cause someone’s career to end for good.
The solution to all of these issues is for guardians to teach their children and raise awareness about the dangers these challenges or actions can possess, and how participating in any of these can cause damage not only to themselves but to the people around them.
Influencers should be held accountable for any damages these videos or challenges cause. They also need to be held to a higher standard when it comes to participating in challenges. Such as displaying disclaimers or warnings to never attempt what they see online. We need to discourage these behaviors before other people spread them around.