The Dark Side Of Influencers: Douchebags

The breed of new media professionals known as “social-media influencers” is incredibly diverse, encompassing everything from hot models flogging fashion to flippant Swedes flogging video games. They use different social-media platforms to reach different audiences and promote different products.

Thus, it would be inaccurate and unfair to make broad categorical statements about them.

But for me, the archetypal influencer will always be the one who first rose to fame, starting about a decade ago. He — and it’s always a he — is young (teens to early 20s), good-looking in a generic way, brashly confident or wispily sensitive. He makes moderately funny videos or plays guitar and sings moderately well. Therefore, teenage girls like him.  And that’s it.

However, as many a brand has discovered since then, the problem with these kinds of bros — I hesitate to call them “young men” — is that they are often complete jerks. In fact, that seems to be the basis of their appeal to the teenage girls who flock to them and who are, let’s face it, are not known as the best judges of character.

This week brings us the case of Jake Paul, a dude if there ever was one. (Two first names is a big red flag, by the way.)

Paul is a Disney star, as well as an influencer, with 8.5 million followers across YouTube, Instagram and the like. Paul is now persona non grata in his West Hollywood neighborhood because of his preferred method of entertaining his social-media audience. It involves large groups of boisterous young men, very loud noises, and the occasional destruction of property.

According to local news broadcaster KTLA, Paul’s neighbors complain that he and his “crew” — and inevitably there’s a crew, meaning a herd of dudes who look, act and sound just like him — are turning the neighborhood into a “living hell” with his “stunts.”

One awesome “stunt” involved putting a huge pile of furniture in an empty pool and setting it on fire. The end. Awesome, right? Of course, it is.

Fire code violations aside, the real problem may be that Paul routinely gives out his physical address on social media, with the result that crowds of young (mostly female) fans show up at the rental property where he lives.

One neighbor, identified as Maytal Dahan, told KTLA: “It used to be a really nice, quiet street and now just this, like, war zone. We’re families here, and we’re more than happy to have them live here if they’re respectful of their neighbors. But they’re not.”

Paul frankly admits to KTLA “the neighbors hate me” and agrees that he and his crew (there it is again) have turned the neighborhood into a “circus.” Then he points out: “But, I mean, people like going to circuses.”

Instead, his neighbors are going to city council and the police — and are also threatening to take legal action against Paul’s landlord. So his fans should enjoy the circus while it lasts. Awesome, bro.

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