Multimillionaire Dan Bilzerian’s Social Media Presence is Detrimental to Society

If you ever have the misfortune of paying a visit to, or stumbling upon, a post from social media hit Dan Bilzerian, on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, you don’t have to look too hard to discover his blatant sexism. With overtly smug, tongue-in-cheek posts, his online presence appears to be geared totally toward displaying the lavish life he leads. Yet the most disturbing thing about Bilzerian’s sexism and decadent lifestyle is the amount of fans he has gathered.

Bilzerian is a self-professed gambling addict, and gun obsessed womaniser, who is, according to Buzzfeed, living off his Daddy’s trust fund”. He has been described as “the most interesting man on Instagram. But when did ‘the most interesting’ become equated with flippant sexism and vast amounts of money and partying?

The power of social media and its influence in society cannot be emphasised enough. We needn’t look further than recent online campaigns such as the No Make Up Selfies (which raised both awareness and millions of pounds for Breast Cancer) to testify such power. However, as much as social media can be utilised toward the greater good, on the flip side, the largely ignored negative influence of social media must be taken into account. Posting updates that could range from job opportunities to a photo of someone’s lunch, social media is now, more than ever, a fixture of everyday life and almost a necessity. So, when social media giants such as Bilzerian are able to post anything and it will still be met with a harrowing level of celebration and lack of questioning, it is a cause for concern.

Social media and the online world in general are prone to trends, and sexism appears to be a trend that Bilzerian is cultivating through his online presence. One caption above a photo of two scantily clad women cleaning reads “A man needs to always keep a clean house.. To be clear, I am not suggesting he clean his house” The sexist ideals which lie at the heart of such posts are legitimised due to the support and celebration they are met with and it would be naïve to suggest that such legitimisation had no influence, ultimately, upon social ideals in everyday life.

This disturbing trend of casual online sexism is anachronistic somewhat in the sense that it is at odds with the supposedly modern society we are meant to be living in. It is almost certainly the case that dominant online voices such as Bilzerian’s will be emulated to a certain extent in everyday life and conversation simply because of this influence of social media.

Labels such as ‘LAD’, which thrive online due to pages such as Uni Lad, are synonymous with Bilzerian’s lifestyle and are poisonous because they encapsulate the same sexist attitudes and treatment of women simply as objects of male gratification. Thriving in university culture, ‘LAD’ culture as opposed to harnessing a mindset of social tolerance and open mindedness (which would be expected in university culture), quite frankly, encourages sexism and sexual harassment.

If such trends continue uncontested then it is detrimental to any vision of social equality because of the fact that such backwardness is met with this stark lack of disapproval or opposition. It is, in fact, disturbingly encouraged. While it seemingly has become a Facebook trend for unremarkable photos of gay couples to be removed, Blizerian and Uni Lad are allowed to thrive and continue. This point of comparison provides a bleak insight into the collective, paradoxically backward, online mindset that appears to be geared toward reviving archaic sexism, and simultaneously, intolerance of the LGBT community. Online pages such as ‘The Everyday Sexism Project’ have been set up in order to tackle and denounce the rise in sexism, however, while ‘The Everyday Sexism Project’ has 5,868 likes on Facebook, Bilzerian and Uni Lad are massively more supported with Bilzerian garnering a total of 2.9m likes and Uni Lad 952k of likes as it stands. It seems that popular culture has a very long way to go in cultivating a mindset of tolerance and equality.

As published on studentjournals.co.uk June 12 2014

The Kimye Wedding: Why the obsession?

Social media newsfeeds and celebrity news platforms saw an inundation of press reporting on the eleven-million-dollar wedding of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West this week. If you somehow managed to escape subjection to at least one photo of the couple that has gripped (what feels like) the attention of the world, then, kudos.

From articles about the guest list, to Kanye’s speech, right through to the likelihood of divorce being on the cards, Kimye’s wedding has been covered from all imaginable angles. But why the obsession? Are their lives really that remarkable?

While the Kimye marriage cost an inordinate sum of money, the overt media coverage it has been subjected to has cheapened it somewhat. As opposed to being the special union of two people who love each other it has been blown out of proportion and become a publicity stunt pandering to an eagerly awaiting audience. It was exactly what the audience expected: vast amounts of money splashed on elaborate yet cheap entertainment. The couple are fully aware of how the press will report on their wedding – quite simply, celebrity news sells.

Whilst celebrity coverage and social media websites such as Twitter, strive to shed light on the lives of celebrities such as Kim and Kanye, they appear to have become, paradoxically, all the more one dimensional. The fact that society will only ever see celebrities through TV screens, and now via phone or laptop screens scrolling through social media, means it isn’t an ardent insight into their lives; it is a mediated, fabricated image.

It isn’t just Kim and Kanye, TV channels are (and have been) dominated by so-called insights into the world of fame and luxury that range from, but aren’t limited to, X-Factor, Real Housewives, Cribs and Made In Chelsea. Creating the mentality that fame and living the good life, so to speak, are the ultimate goals we should be striving for, it tells us we haven’t made it until we have enough money to throw about carelessly.

It forges a much more self driven mindset upon financial goals and materialism as opposed to goals that are ultimately attaining something much more fulfilling. The age old idea that money isn’t the key to happiness and the best things in life are free is very much not the sentiment projected within celebrity TV shows and articles.

However, perhaps our culture of obsession with celebrities goes further than a mere form of escapism, envy and wish fulfilment. WhatCulture has written about how ‘we watch with morbid fascination as our modern gods and goddesses go bankrupt, have their relationships fall apart, and succumb to drug abuse. When you tune into the celebrity plight, most will take some joy in their misery.’ Perhaps then what we seek in reading about or watching celebrities is a form self-validation in the idea that those who appear to have everything are still subject to the same trouble and pain that any other person can be subject to. This then humanises overtly image comprised celebrities, and in turn de-humanises the insensitivity of those who watch with eager anticipation as their plights unfurl.

Articles based around estimations of the likelihood of divorce being on or off the cards for the newly wed couple evidences the insensitivity that is spurned from the envy of the lives of those vastly better off. It’s a shallow confirmation that grass is indeed not always greener on the other side.

While celebrity culture might be telling of the media, the press and their awareness of how controversy will sell, it is equally telling of society’s desperate consumption. And through the confirmation that money does not shield from pain, celebrity culture addicts thrive on revelations of false invincibility. Whilst the Kimye wedding obsession may externally appear to be escapism from a comparably mundane reality, in reality it is much more of a selfish enterprise.

As published on studentjournals.co.uk June 6 2014