“How I picked up the phone and called my publicist.” — Selena Gomez (@selenagomez)
The social media movement we have been witnessing and exploited by our youth for years is finally starting to have its consequences.
Instagram users have banded together and spoken out about the anti-consent culture in the site, where hitting the “like” button on other people’s sexy pictures is, it seems, a signal to obtain sexual favors in return. And more and more stars are speaking out against Instagram, asking the site to delete profiles of people who post inappropriate posts, such as ones extolling the pleasures of oral sex or showing the genitals of others.
The same ideals that have allowed our youth to abuse their privilege in a society that forbids them from dealing with this kind of socialization – and the ability to take their own risks and fail or succeed – are also being used on them to perpetuate misery and inequality.
I have tremendous respect for young people – especially young women – who bravely take the steps needed to make positive changes in their lives. I have also seen the rampant abuse that young women experience after reaching a place of social success. My late mother was a household name – and that success often was accompanied by jealousy and scrutiny – and the socially conscious youth these days are demonstrating the same pain.
This month’s just-released book, “The Devil’s Dictionary: Diary of a Toxic Latina” – by Yemi Alade, a Nigerian-American producer and singer – also deals with the problems that can face young girls who are marginalized – especially from their communities, and often, these girls end up being promiscuous. In this context, photographs of Alade in her underwear can be used to portray her as young and beautiful, an enticing package that is easy to purchase and potentially attain.
In the book, Alade uses her own social and financial success to give a voice to women and girls who face stigmatization for being beautiful and popular on social media, and she reinforces her message with sexy photographs of herself to show her social status is one that is attainable.
There is no doubt that Instagram can be useful for young people. It is the way they can learn to share ideas, experiment, and build a community. However, the app represents a problem for many of our youth. Instagram can reinforce the vicious cycle of getting attention, but not being able to set boundaries, control boundaries, and ultimately feel that they have gained some kind of status. This contributes to an increasing level of negativity and suffering in today’s youth, which is not the solution we should be seeking.
Instagram is playing with our children’s sense of privacy. Often it is a way to escape those anxieties that could impact our children. Instead, it is a tool to torment them. Maybe Instagram will always be a powerful tool, but it won’t be a good one to have if it is used to harbor deeper problems.
I welcome young leaders in the cultural movement to advocate for a solution to this issue – and I am hopeful that they will. But until we decide to create a better, more socially responsible social media platform for our youth – one that shows kindness and respect for self – I fear we will have more of the same.
Lucy Childs @lucychildsmom
Manu Manu Ciroc Et Ciroc Rosé
Peter King @PeterKing