With their globe-trotting—or, in pandemic times, US-trotting—lifestyle, the "Bucket List Family" has gained more than 2.6 million followers on Instagram, but Stephanie McNeal as BuzzFeed feels they have now gone too far in the search for clicks. Some of the influencers' followers were alienated by the way they handled mother Jessica Gee's recent skiing accident in Utah, she writes. The traveling family's May 2 YouTube video, promoted with an Instagram Story Slide saying it contains "some sad and heart breaking footage," had the "clickbait" title "Mom is Emergency Lifted by Helicopter to the Hospital. Heli Ski Accident in Utah," she notes. It ended with the words "to be continued"—but the family then "went dark" on social media for days, alarming fans who pleaded for more information. Some said they were so worried they couldn't sleep.
After fans started complaining about "emotional manipulation," father Garrett Gee confirmed that Jessica had undergone surgery for a knee injury—and said "hurtful comments" had made her cry. McNeal says it's no surprise fans were upset by the way the accident was presented as a cliffhanger. She notes that the video shows Garrett's "first instinct" when he reached his injured wife was to keep filming her, and says the episode shows why "YouTube culture is broken." "Sharing your family online is fine. Making money off YouTube is fine," she writes. "But when you find yourself openly baiting your audience with a serious accident for clicks and engagement, it may be time to look in the mirror and ask yourself: How low are you willing to go to for YouTube?" Click for the full piece. (Read more social media stories.)