The adjective “tone-deaf” is becoming more and more common in English, particularly when it’s used to describe public figures who make statements or hold beliefs without paying close regard to the context or implications of their words.
The phrase “tone-deaf” does, in fact, best describe a video by American tiktoker Tara Lynn that was later removed. The satirical joke was made by Lynn, an artist with around 5 million followers, whose profile is primarily made up of short dancing videos, humorous sketches, and make-up instructions. Lynn believes that too many people spend their days lying in bed doing nothing but relaxing. “Is there a job for anyone? Who is at work? “Lynn cited a different widely panned video that included Kim Kardashian.
It goes without saying that the shitstorm that followed was also caused by the fact that the video went viral at the same time as another contentious discussion on TikTok, which was triggered by multiple creators’ comments about how difficult and stressful the job of an influencer was. While the admissions of the girls who had failed to land a job in content creation had been greeted with some sympathy, this situation received much less sympathy. And it was other influencers that called out their fellow influencers: from Miki Rai, who has 2.4 million followers on TT and was a nurse before becoming a creator, to Yasmin, who disclosed that even the worst day as an influencer will still earn thousands of dollars.
A significant shift in the interaction between creator and audience can be seen in the controversy. As evidenced by trends like Eat The Rich or movies that ruthlessly depict the demise of aspirational influencers, like the comedy Not Okay or the horror Bodies, Bodies, Bodies, we see an unprecedented level of intolerance, intransigence, if not outright hatred, displayed by some online personalities.
The word “tone-deaf” resurfaces in this context because whining about one’s job, no matter how sacred and legitimate, seems at least impolite coming from a position of privilege, which is obvious and flaunted, and in such a somber environment as youth unemployment, global wars, and precarious mental health. This is not intended to disparage individuals who have chosen to make content creation their career, but rather to perform a reality check, as the Americans would say. According to an i-D article, the conflict between online celebrities and audiences—at least in the virtual world—could be linked to a socioeconomic class issue, which is undoubtedly a problem. The other 99% will only become enraged at what the 1% of the population does (and can afford to do), as demonstrated by the Chiara Ferragni and the helicopter aperitif-gate some days ago.
Additionally, the seeming absence of meritocracy, particularly in the fashion business, incenses many. Why is it that the biggest Maisons in the industry invite people to exhibits and events and lavished with gifts and presents even when they have no special taste, no clear creative talent, no such profound devotion or enthusiasm (or who wouldn’t have the money to buy luxury items)? This is undoubtedly the immediate, natural, and “basic” standard by which one evaluates yet another Hermès unboxing video, watched, as always, from one’s tiny bedroom, even though it may not be the best principle from which to tackle the problem.
It is obvious that the “problem” is not the creators themselves, but rather how they are discovered, hired, and compensated by the fashion and entertainment industries, which are always on the lookout for the next big thing, the next phenomenon, or the next token to serve as evidence of being politically aware. It’s also obvious that there are drawbacks to being an influencer; it’s undoubtedly quite stressful to think about having to interact with hundreds of thousands of people daily and risking exposure to criticism, condemnation, and controversy. However, since you are speaking to such a huge group of people, it could be a good idea to adjust your tone more carefully. It is a public relations position after all, so you must be prepared for it.