Last week, it was reported that 3 Canadian YouTube vloggers had died while swimming at the top of Shannon Falls in Squamish, British Columbia. The trio were part of content creation channel High On Life, which has a current following of 560,000 subscribers, and a further 1.1 million followers on Instagram. As the tragic news broke, so did the influx of comments across news sites and social media.
What should have been an opportunity for public unity and a shared value of life, soon became a shocking and inexcusable insight into how certain people view social media influencers.
They had it coming. Good riddance.
Over the past decade, social media has become the platform for the facade of a perfect life. People are obtaining thousands of online worshippers as they sell them beauty, lifestyle, experience, and adventure. Many attempt to recreate the life of those they have started to admire so much and the result of this is millions of social media accounts filled with avocados, tranquil landscapes, and professional looking photos of people lounging at home in their comfy clothes.
But with the so-called perfect life comes resentment. Resentment from those that feel they don’t live in the same wonderful world, spared of sadness and pain, like so many influencers like to suggest they do. Jealousy begins to take over, as does the desire to see the image of perfection shattered into little pieces.
I read social media influencers and start to laugh.
The horrendous reaction to the death of Ryker Gamble, Alexey Lyakh and Megan Scraper further highlights how detached society is becoming from reason, and more worryingly, empathy.
Prior to their death, the 3 vloggers seemed to live the life. They traveled the world and obtained memories that will last a lifetime. Granted, their behavior did not always fall in line with ethics and the law, with many of their social media stunts falling under scrutiny. Two years ago both Gamle and Lyakh were rightly punished by both law enforcement and the Internet for walking across Yellowstone’s Grand Prismatic Spring.
It is this kind of behavior that makes many people reject the lengths influencers are prepared to go so they can sell you the dream. But despite the questionable behavior of the pair, and many other influencers, surely it does not warrant the celebration of death, especially in such devastating circumstances?
Karma’s a b*tch. Don’t respect nature and this is what you get in return.
What the deaths do bring attention to is the world behind the lens. It is a rare moment where the fairy tale life is brought back into the reality and shown to be no different from just your average Joe living next door. And for those that make them, the hurtful comments are an opportunity to say, “not so perfect now, are you?”. It is a moment in which certain people can finally connect with the influencers, and rejoice in the knowledge that as is true for them, things are not always so ideal.
It is also the case that online content creators have to take responsibility for the current state we find ourselves in as a society. Life is not perfect, for anybody. Selling this package is clearly having a negative impact on humanity, with many suggesting that social media depression is on the rise. While it may look cool in the moment, everyone, on both sides, has to take responsibility for the damage it is causing.
I say we get rid of this ridiculous perception that the Utopian life is obtainable; all you need is a good camera, some makeup, and an Instagram account. I say we stop making it about us and them, and we tell more of a story that shows that all of us, no matter our status in life, are not too dissimilar at all.
If that could happen and resentment and jealousy go with it, we could all be in a healthier position in our minds. And maybe, in this not so perfect world, when such a tragedy happens again, everyone can come together and show both unity and empathy.
Wouldn’t that be a far better world to live in?
About the author: Dan Ginn is a street photographer based in London. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Ginn’s work on his website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This article was also published here.
Image credits: Header photo by Becca Tapert