The White House is enlisting an “influencer army” to push young people to get vaccinated. This is a pivotal decision that is a marker of our times: where the line between influencer and political organizer grows increasingly blurred, and it seems that influencers are beginning to potentially have more power on the youths than political figures.
As reported by The New York Times, the Biden administration has signed up 50 Twitch, YouTube, and TikTok users, the majority of whom are under the age of 30, in order to encourage the young people who follow them to get vaccinated.
The White House allegedly sent questions to selected influencers via a marketing firm, asking them to address “a significant need to expand awareness within the 12-18 range.” Many people in that age bracket have not yet been fully or partially vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
State and municipal governments are also enlisting the support of regional influencers, with some offering $1,000 monthly incentives to persuade their followers to get vaccinated.
Olivia Rodrigo, an 18-year-old artist who visited the White House last month to meet with chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci on vaccinations, is one of the Gen Zers enrolled. The young artist recently rose to fame when she released a hit album that many have dubbed the soundtrack of the summer.
“As online media encroaches deeper into real-world politics, there is a mounting competitive push for content providers to get more politically involved,” wrote internet theorist Joshua Citarella earlier this year.
The initiative comes as the Delta variant’s infection rates continue to rise. It also shows how the US government recognizes the cultural significance of internet platforms and the influencers who control them—making this a whole new market venture for political parties. After all, we are all aware of the power of TikTokers and social media influencers in changing certain political narratives over the course of the past few years.
We don’t know how effective this method will be in motivating these groups of young people to become politically engaged, but we can only hope that the passion can be effectively channeled into the social fabric, so that more people get vaccinated and we are able to conquer this pandemic once and for all.
And just in today, the F.D.A. has granted the full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. If you’re looking for something less serious, check out last week’s TikTok trends.
Photo via AP Photo/Susan Walsh