Charlie Michael Baker explores the dark side of social media in new book

Charlie Michael Baker explores the dark side of social media in new book

Charlie Michael Baker explores the dark side of social media in new e-book


Social media is now a constant in modern-day life and while it keeps us all connected, not everyone’s online experience is pleasant, with some being on the receiving end of trolling and death threats has become the norm. Influencer Charlie Michael Baker sadly knows all too well.

The 17-year-old from Leyland, Lancashire, has grown a following of 1.3 million Instagram followers through his previous self-published book Charlie Baker: Autism and Me about his personal experience growing up with Autism, where he was able to raise £407,000 for charities when it was released a year ago.

For Charlie, who had been active online from a young age and had dreams of being influential, it was a “dream come true.”

“I was about 10 when I downloaded Instagram, so I was quite young. I'd always dreamed of being an influencer. I've always said to my family ‘I'm going to be famous’. That's one thing that I always said I want to be famous. I want to be known,” Charlie told indy100.

“I didn't realise that it would happen with a book because I failed my GCSEs in English. And then my book blew up, then so did my social media, and I've kind of just made all my hopes and dreams come true.”


But with the success came the hate, with the teen constantly being targeted by abusive messages and threats.

“People have literally sent me hate and death threats and sometimes even sending me screenshots of my house on Google Earth,” he recalled.

Some of the messages Charlie showed to indy100 that he has received included homophobic slurs, rape and death threats, ablest insults and suicidal content.

It was these experiences within the influencer world that inspired Charlie to write his latest book Charlie Michael Baker: Social Media and I, which “covers everything” to do with social media.

“The book is about social media and trolls and it covers everything. From dating in the public eye where people have tried to take money and ask for shoutouts and all that kind of stuff to receiving death threats,” he explained.

However, being a target of hate is something Charlie is heartbreakingly “used to” from being bullied at school, a “really dark time” that he recalls in his first book.

“When I was bullied in school, I went through it all. It was it was a really dark time for me. I tried to take my own life three times,” Charlie said candidly.

“So obviously I got over the worst of it and I just kind of get used to it after a while, which is sad, but it's a reality. And unfortunately, it's a reality for many.”

Statistics also affirm this, since almost one in four people in the UK have experienced some sort of cyberbullying, according to a 2019 YouGov poll.

Of the 2,034 people surveyed, 23 per cent of people reported being targeted online, 18 to 24-year-olds are the most likely to be cyberbullied, with 55 per cent of respondents in this age range saying they’ve been bullied online.

Meanwhile, research in 2017 from anti-bullying charity Ditch The Label found that the most common platform for 12-20-year-olds to be cyber bullied is Instagram - this is also where Charlie has his biggest social media presence.

“Now when I get hate comments, I just look at it and I'll read it and I'll go, ‘Yeah, whatever,’” Charlie noted.

“It doesn't worry me because whenever I'm out and about I'm either with someone, if I'm at an event or something, I'll be with security, or when I'm at work there's bouncers, so I don't feel scared.”

He emphasised: “I don't feel intimidated. They don't intimidate me.”

Reporting the trolling to the police has been “the biggest thing” that has been advised to Charlie who says he’s received hundreds of abusive messages daily within the past year.

“We've contacted the police. Unfortunately, I think there's too many, to be honest.”

The author added: “I've spoken to a few of my influencer celebrity friends as well and they just said, unfortunately, it's just a reality that you have to deal with when you're in the public eye. It's just something that comes with the job.”

Social media platforms have also come under scrutiny in recent times over how they handle online abuse and Charlie believes these companies are not doing enough to combat this ongoing issue.

“We've done everything possible,” he said. “We've turned the comments off to only people that I follow, and they're still just popping through the DMs, they need to be filtered.”

“It's not right and it's not okay that people should have to deal with this. And it's not just influencers. It's anyone on social media, anyone with a public account or even a private account, it doesn't matter how many followers you have, you're always going to have trolls and people hating on you. It's just not okay because it really harms your mental health.”

Since his latest book was self-published in February this year, Charlie shared how “crazy” the response has been.

“I've had countless DMs honestly. My manager gave me my password back and he was like, 'You need to see this.'”

“My aim was [to reach] a million copies. So far there’s been 840,000 [downloads] within two weeks and I think I'm predicted to sell about 2 million, which would be crazy,” he added.

The book is currently free to download and read for the first few months before it changes to a penny to buy, and the influencer explained that “it's just about spreading the word” as the reason for this low price point.

“Obviously if I published it for five pounds or whatever eBooks usually are. I wouldn't have sold half as many as I have so it's just about spreading the word. It's not about money, none of my books are about money,” Charlie said.

“Like the last book we've donated about £407,000 to charities. My books are about spreading awareness spreading positivity and just changing the world really.”

Spreading positivity is Charlie’s “main hope” for readers to take from his book and also serves as a warning to those leaving nasty comments online, “Don’t do this” as words can have a lasting impact on a person’s mental health.

“It might seem like a word to you, but it could really mess someone up,” the influencer said and in a similar vein to the contents of his book, he provided a personal anecdote to bring home his important message.

“When I was bullied in school, I was called fat all the time and then I developed an eating disorder and I lost loads of weight and now I can't put weight on and now people call me skinny and they will be anorexic and stuff like that.

“So it still lingers, and that can really affect people - I think that's the message that we're trying to portray.”

He noted: “If you haven't gotten anything nice to say, just don't say it.”

Now that Charlie has been through the good and the bad sides of the influencer world, he has some words of advice for up-and-coming content creators receiving new public attention.

“I'd give two pieces of advice. Get a manager because you're gonna need a really good one if you're following is growing and make sure they don't scam you. But, also get some PR training because you are going to need it.”

After releasing his second book, Charlie is keen to write “a few more books” in the future but also has his eyes set on appearing as a contestant on a certain popular reality TV show…

“If any Big Brother producers are reading this. Keep me in mind for next year honeys.”

Charlie Michael Baker: Social Media and I is now available to read.

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