A very interesting thing happened in NL this week. Several people with a lot of followers, mostly in the younger adult age group, started posting stuff under a Dutch hashtag which roughly translates to ‘I’m out’. They expressed their discontent with government rules to keep covid-19 at bay. They seemed to want to say, I don’t believe it anymore. I’m done with keeping my distance. Sure, the number of infections are rising, but numbers in hospitals are still low. I’m young. Covid-19 is not life threatening for me. I’m done with all the rules.
The story goes that these people were first brought together in a chat group (using whatsapp) by someone who is the founder of a small but vocal group of anti-government rules. He gathered people in his chat group that have a serious amount of followers and started to convince them of his arguments against government covid-19 rules. These influencers clearly were influenced and in an orchestrated manner started influencing their followers by posting messages of doubt.
After publishing a storm of critique followed. From average Jane to the Minister, people warned them of their influence on their audience. Right at a time when the number of infectious people is rising rapidly and hospitalizations doubling every week, these messages of doubt are not helpful to prevent further restrictions in the (very) near future. Several of the influencers doubled down and retracted their message from whatever social platform they’re active on. Ironically, they started to downplay their role as influencers. I hope their clients heard this message. They’re worth less than advertisers think.