Social Media Influencers

Reflecting on Luke 14:1,7-14

A somewhat surprising contemporary example of people with wealth, power, status and privilege would be ‘influencers’ – people who use social media platforms like ‘instagram’ and ‘TikTok’ to post short videos that go viral, which gains them a considerable following online. In turn, this enables them to gain ‘celebrity’ status, and then they are able to ‘monetise’ their fame.

A 2020 Forbes article, TikTok’s 7 Highest Earning Stars detailed how influencers can make ‘serious money’ ($1 million +). Plenty of people getting into this game, including Australian Harrison Pawluk. Below are two of his videos.

Old woman sitting in a food court on her own‘ (TikTok)
A Melbourne woman said she feels like clickbait after she was filmed without her consent receiving flowers from a stranger for a TikTok video that has now been viewed more than 57 million times.
She was objectified as an older woman, with the patronising assumption that women sitting alone are lonely, and that they will be thrilled by some random stranger giving them flowers.

In another stunt, the TikTok ‘influencer’ paid for groceries for a shopper and uploaded the video – for the purpose of self-promotion.

It does seem disingenuous to watch a TikToker use someone else’s weekly grocery shop as a mechanism to propel themselves to viral stardom.

In his defence, Pawluk said he had been inspired to “concentrate on random acts of kindness after witnessing the extent of the poverty and homelessness in LA”. But his simple acts of charity and kindness use and objectify others to add to his fame and fortune. And how much good he might do to give money to those really doing it tough, without needing to film the evidence of his generosity.

There are incredible acts of selfless compassion and kindness that happen in and through church and charity groups. Mostly the people will remain unknown to those they are called to serve.

Even singer Jon Bon Jovi ‘gets’ the idea of sacrificial giving, care and compassion – behind the scenes. He has set up 3 JBJ Soul Kitchens to feed those who are struggling. He himself washes dishes behind the scenes, and helps prepare and serve the food.
(Plenty of celebrities also give generously to the poor and needy without needing public recognition).

Closer to home, many of our churches, working in collaboration with community groups, host soup kitchens, manage night shelters, staff cafes set up to welcome people, support for refugees and asylum seekers, and so much more. It is stunning work!

Highlighting today the work of Olive Way at Brunswick Uniting Church as an example of happens in many other places too where food is provided to the disadvantaged. Facebook page here.

Jesus speaks about the coming reign of God which begins in the present, with a reversal of values and status, where the last will be first and the first last. The followers of Jesus will follow his example (Philippians 2:1-7), and will begin to rehearse humility and self-effacement rather than seeking honour or climbing the social ladder.

Reading: Philippians 2:1-7
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.