“Influencers – the new pop idols of the 21st century” (Nov. 2020)

This learning activity focuses on influencers. These internet celebrities on YouTube or Instagram are ‘opinion leaders’ of the younger generations
whereas in former times,stars of the TV, music or sports world had an enormous influence on younger people. ‘Bloggers’ are “followed” by thousands or even millions of people. They present their own life: leisure activities, lifestyle, favorite products etc. But they are cautious with regard to political themes because those can potentially cause conflicts which can lead to a loss of followers. They get most clicks while talking about more superficial topics like beauty & gaming. This activity focuses on different aspects:

  • examples of influencers: Who is most influential in the countries of the partner schools?
  • fascination of influencers: Why does it seem necessary to have random people tell us how to bind a tie, how to put on make-up and how to get 100% completion of a certain video game? Some of the reasons are: distraction, orientation, ideal self-presentation, special know-how etc.
  • comparison present–past: Who were the influencers of the pre-YouTube Age?Were those things covered on television or was it our family members who taught us things mentioned above? Has it become normal to doublecheck everything or to have other people make up their minds about topics we’re unfamiliar with.
  • advertising & product placement: Forbes magazine published the world’s top earning YouTube stars in 2015 (around $15m per year). Lots of young people wish to become a YouTuber in the future. Obviously, this is considered as a normal professional title.The proximity between influencer & follower is one reason why enterprises discovered influencers as important marketing “tool”: They send gifts & products that are presented to the followers in beauty videos for example. Thus, influencers are very important for companies. The distinction between a personal recommendation &
    advertising is complicated. Sincerity, transparency & independence are in demand.
  • influence of “influencers”: By presenting themselves continually & suggesting being the ‘friend of the neighborhood’, influencers become figures of identification for young followers having an enormous influence on their attitude towards life (e.g. aesthetic ideals). Harsh critics consider them as narcisstic & superficial, animating young people to consume.They represent the personified capitalism: “I consume, therefore I am.”

For all these reasons, it is very important to enhance the information literacy of young people & to enable them to develop a critical approach.
The students will create “explanatory clips” summing up the important facts that young people should know while using YouTube, Instagram & co. They will get the professional support from Polsih media experts.