YouTube star Jake Paul is one of an increasing number of influencers who are shamelessly vetoing coronavirus laws to throw huge parties in their sprawling homes. The occasion? They’re rich and they can.
Consequence-free Paul seems to have set the trend, and now the Los Angeles police have threatened to cut off water and electricity to any home thought to be breaking coronavirus laws with large gatherings.
More than 160,000 people have died across the US of Covid-19, yet hordes of young people are gathering maskless, dancing and drinking with zero regards for social distancing.
It’s wrong to say that all 23 year olds are inherently immature. Still, it does seem likely that Paul has an emotional immaturity that, if put on a scale, would rival his YouTube following of 20 million. Plus, “23 year old” and “Calabasas mansion” do not a functional pairing make. At 23, you are still learning who you are and what exactly your moral code is. Having pots of money before 25 rarely ends well. Recently, firearms were found in his house, after presumably he ran out of other items to buy with his millions.
This isn’t a piece about shaming or cancelling Paul specifically. He’s not my concern, nor does he even definitely exist – rumours continue to swirl it’s all a Katie Hopkins-style curated character, carved for cash. Instead, my attention is on the audience of millions, plus a culture that produced tolerated and idolised such a “star”. It’s not Paul’s fault; he lives in a world where we’re dealing with an additional pandemic of self-absorption that stretches far beyond one spoilt YouTuber.
We’re no longer taught to prioritise the big-ticket emotional items such as compassion, generosity, and commonality, the values that lead to long-term happiness for everyone. Instead, we favour instant gratification, validation, and materialism, that lead to long-term misery, which has led to a spike in life dissatisfaction and a mental health crisis.
Following the parties being brought to the public’s attention, Paul has since told his young and impressionable audience that he has no plans to stop throwing parties because he is “not the type of person who’s going to sit around and not live my life”.
As well as “bruh”, Paul’s favourite words seem to be ”my”, ”I”, and “me” – and that’s as far the compassion appears to reach in his moral vacuum.
Meanwhile, classed in the vulnerable category, my disabled friend Susan, who is 64-years-old and lives alone, has not left her house since March. Would Paul feel the same if he was a shielding diabetic with a heart condition? Or if he was the parent to a sick child who’s immunodeficient? Every single dance, shot, or beer pong-styled social interaction runs the risk of spreading the infection to these vulnerable people further. However, even that minutia of empathy seems lost on him and his friends.
For them, coronavirus doesn’t exist. If the average 20 year old did contract the virus, they would likely not suffer any serious symptoms. Certain young people think they are invincible against Covid-19, regardless of the broader impact being a carrier could have. My child’s school might not open in September, but at least a few kids in LA got to throw ping-pong balls into a plastic cup of beer.
So far, the bad behaviour has avoided punishment and, in some cases like Paul’s, is celebrated by his fans. And our society has rewarded this (infuriatingly) young man with more money and prestige than he knows what to do with.
If each of his subscribers sent a video to just three of four mates, he’d have the audience’s attention the size of the UK population. Though painful to consider, Paul and his peers have more real influence than any political party. While trust in the government decreases more every day, we need influencers to do the right thing. Currently, they are about to make things a whole lot worse.
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