An example of a single story is the lives of social media influencers. They post many things about who they are online, but they do not show the world everything about their identities. They show their audience their talents, friends, family, daily life, etc. From this surface information, their audience makes assumptions about them. A social media influencer could be a great person, but since people only know them as they are portrayed online, someone may decide that they do not like who the influencer is. Viewing somebody’s life through a screen only allows for a glimpse of who a person actually is on the inside.
A study found that “negative online experiences have more impact than positive ones because of negativity bias” (Salem). Making a negative comment on an influencer’s post will not allow the person who posts the comment to gain anything. If anything is gained, it would be bad mental health, including depression for the influencer receiving the comment. The same study “found every 10 percent increase in negative social media experiences was associated with a 20 percent increase in the odds of reporting depressive symptoms” (Salem). Having empathy for social media influencers will allow people to realize that unless they know them personally, they cannot fully make a judgment on their identity.
As Stefon Harris said, “Empathy is essentially the science of understanding” (Harris). Being empathetic towards influencers allows for a realization that they are just an average person like anybody else, but they put their lives online for the world to judge. By people not making assumptions about them and not leaving negative comments on their pages, but by people being kind and trying to understand where they are coming from when they make a post, their audiences can grow in their empathy towards other people’s situations.
Harris, Stefon. “Stefon Harris — Vibraphonist, Educator, Thinker — Teaches Empathy From The Bandstand.” npr.org, NPR, 30 March 2020. Accessed 15 October 2020.
Salem, Tala. “Study: Negative Social Media Experiences Linked to Depression.” usnews.com, U.S. News & World Report L.P, 7 June 2018.