Jess McHugh: You can’t cancel me

American author and journalist, Jess McHugh recently published « You can’t cancel me » (Guardian), a portrait of a fallen fitness influencer, who is now converted to Christian influencing. For the #NPDJ, Jess McHugh agreed to explain why « You can’t cancel » influencers and how to write about them on TikTok.

© Théophile AUBRIOT

« TikTok gives people a sense of belonging. » This is the conclusion that Jess McHugh came to, following her investigation « You can’t cancel me, » published in October 2022 in the Guardian. She analyzed the profile of Brittany Dawn Davis, a fitness influencer from Kansas who became « a Jesus warrior » on the social network TikTok.

« On TikTok, extremist views have no limits », the journalist noticed. It is possible to say and communicate opinions that are unheard in real life. « Influencers on TikTok don’t have to start with extreme opinions, it builds up little by little. » Brittany Dawn Davis, in particular, did just that. 

« She was reaching out to women who felt left out of mainstream culture,” said Jess McHugh. “It gave them a sense of belonging. In fact, they weren’t worried about spending thousands of dollars on spiritual retreats or training. »

The former fitness influencer is now accused of scamming and endangering the lives of others following the sale of advice and diets dangerous to health. In addition, there were unfulfilled commercial promises, including the shipping of meals tailored to her clients’ profile, as well as personal exchanges with the entrepreneur. This does not prevent her from remaining significantly popular on TikTok.. 

For the journalist, TikTok can be criticized on several points. « It is a test of the limits of our societies. It reveals our anxieties. » Another risk is the excess of fake news. « We might think that thanks to the amount of information available on the internet, it is easier to verify information, but it is the opposite. It is increasingly difficult to determine what is true.« 

By Lucie Remer – Edited by Sarah Miansoni

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