The average twitter user has 208 followers, but senior Aris De La Garza is not your average twitter user — she currently has over 37,000 followers.
“I started gaining a lot of followers the summer after my freshman year, and it’s just progressed from there,” said De La Garza.
It should be noted, however, that her insane amount of followers is not attributed to a viral tweet or picture. Her Twitter prominence is instead due to the fact that her cousin is none other than Demi Lovato.
“My account really blew up last year, though, when Demi tweeted me happy birthday,” says De La Garza.
Given her enormous following, she is undoubtedly under a very high level of scrutiny. However, she’s made the conscious decision to not let it affect her. “At the end of the day, it’s still my personal account, and I’m under no obligation to please any of my followers,” De La Garza said.
“I like that it gives me the opportunity to promote things that I’m passionate about, but at the same time I’m not too keen on it. I don’t really feel one way or the other. It’s not something I’m all that concerned with,” she says. “I used to feel pressured to post funny or entertaining content, but at this point I don’t really care,” she says.
However, her Twitter fame, combined with the fame of her family members, has afforded her the ability and the platform to spread awareness for causes that she feels particularly impassioned about. For instance, she was given the opportunity to work alongside the National Eating Disorder Association and spread awareness of those conditions.
“They sent me a hoodie and asked me to tweet pictures of myself wearing it, so as to further support their cause,” she says. “So as much as I sometimes catch myself wishing I didn’t have this massive following, I know that without it, I wouldn’t have been given this opportunity.”
As far as internet hate is concerned, De La Garza has learned how to deal with the rude responses.
“I used to respond to hate–specifically hateful comments about my family members–but now I just block them. It’s much easier that way,” said De La Garza. “The way I see it, if they’ve taken the time out of their day to try and hurt my feelings, I’ve already won.”
Similarly, she’s well aware of the fact that a number of her followers follow her solely because they want something from her, yet she remains unfazed. “There will always be people who want something from me,” she says. “I’ve learned how to weed them out.”
De La Garza has, without a doubt, taken her social media prominence in stride, harnessed her online status and used it to promote worthwhile causes, and handled cyber-bullies with grace and poise.