Having fun saving the climate

The climate influencer, emotional labour and -storytelling as counter-narrative on TikTok


  • Helle Kannik Haastrup




Influencer, Climate Change, Emotional Storytelling, Counter-Narrative, TikTok


“How dare you!”. Greta Thunberg’s angry address at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in 2019 epitomised the younger generations’ emotionally charged critique of the political establishment and that establishment’s clear deficit in addressing the climate crisis. Similarly, recent studies of the communication of climate change issues, specifically on the social media platform TikTok, have revealed how Generation Z directly critiques ‘boomers’ for not preventing the climate crisis (Zeng and Abidin 2021) or explicitly express climate anxiety and helplessness (Kaye et al. 2023). Expressions of emotion are in many ways central to how climate change is addressed on social media, and research has so far focussed primarily on quantitative content analysis of affective publics with TikTok hashtags such as #forclimate (Hautea et al. 2021), #climatechange (Corey et al. 2022) and #ecotok (Huber et al. 2022). Less attention has been paid to how individual influencers address climate change through an emotional focus (Murphy 2021). This article aims to remedy this gap through an analysis of two climate influencers on TikTok and how they address climate change through the lens of fashion and science, respectively. They apply their personas (Marshall et al. 2020) to engage in emotional storytelling (Wahl-Jorgensen 2019) and emotional labour (Senft 2008), as well as using hashtags as part of an affective public (Papacharissi 2016). These two influencer types communicate upbeat and fact-based climate narratives in contrast to other ‘gloom and doom’ videos shared on TikTok (Hautea et al. 2021; Kaye et al. 2023) and further represent individual takes on counter-narratives to misinformation about climate change (van Eerten et al. 2017). Our analysis exemplifies how, in a qualitative study, we can investigate the extent to which climate influencers, through their emotional address as well as their fact-based communication, contribute to counter-narratives about climate change on TikTok.


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@thatcurlytopp (2023a): ‘thrift-haul’ https://www.tiktok.com/@thatcurlytopp/video/7221224748821351723

— (2023b: ‘self-presentation- response’ https://www.tiktok.com/@thatcurlytopp/video/7213451166502407467

— (2023c): MetGala https://www.tiktok.com/@thatcurlytopp/video/7228669084479737134

— (2023d: ‘side-eye’ https://www.tiktok.com/@thatcurlytopp/video/7195290726886903083

— (2023e): I hate people – response): https://www.tiktok.com/@thatcurlytopp/video/7254268182926495022

— (2023f): bio https://www.tiktok.com/@thatcurlytopp

@thegarbagequeen (2023a): good climate news https://www.tiktok.com/@thegarbagequeen/video/7252390757271751978

— (2023b): scientist- waste management and stormwater https://www.tiktok.com/@thegarbagequeen/video/7232308107068575018

— (2023c): nepo-babies https://www.tiktok.com/@thegarbagequeen/video/7236375244087364910 — (2023d): Stitch – Willow) https://www.tiktok.com/@thegarbagequeen/video/7206000835082603822

— (2023e): Stitch – Tipping point debunk) https://www.tiktok.com/@thegarbagequeen/video/7243862339831794986

— (2023f): bio https://www.tiktok.com/@thegarbagequeen

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How to Cite

Having fun saving the climate: The climate influencer, emotional labour and -storytelling as counter-narrative on TikTok . (2023). Persona Studies, 9(1), 36-51. https://doi.org/10.21153/psj2023vol9no1art1884