Spare me the selfie school of feminism

Excerpt from this article:

Ask yourself who discloses, to whom and why. It’s simple stuff. If you’re late for work, you explain why the bus was stuck in traffic; your boss doesn’t explain to you. Women always give away too much information. As Lena Dunham has said, oversharing is complex and gendered and society trivialises female experience.

Talking about our “issues” obviously helps others. Sometimes. So does understanding your own history. The idealised nuclear family life that drove so many to depression and valium is what gave rise in the 60s to books like Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, which documented female misery. Each generation creates its own self-loathing. Now it’s binging and purging and self-harm. Young women reinvent the wheels that continue to flatten them.

It’s hard. We record every moment: everything is a hall of mirrors in which the self is reflected back at all times. Does any one of us have the necessary self-esteem? No. We are all flawed, but we are good enough. Do I need all the details of your dysfunction? No. Spare me the confessions and the 500 selfies.

For out there is a world controlled by those who disclose very little about their inner lives. That’s how we live.

 

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“Status Update” Episode on This American Life Podcast

This American Life

The latest episode of the always excellent This American Life podcast opens with a story about young girls interacting with Instagram. Here is part 1 and here is part 2, worth a good listen.

Three teenage girls explain why they are constantly telling their friends they are beautiful on Instagram… [before] describing the complex social map that is constantly changing in their phones.

 

Why Your Kids Love Snapchat, and Why You Should Let Them

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The short shelf life of [Snapchat] images lets teenagers abandon the need to emulate the perfectly posed celebrity, or to represent life as more fabulous than it really is.

…Most visual platforms put feedback from peers at the center of the experience. Life on Instagram, for example, is as much about the rush of scoring likes as sharing something creative with peers. Many users view likes as a barometer of popularity and even self-worth, with some even deleting posts that haven’t drawn enough attention. For tweens and young teenagers, the yearning is so powerful that many post content designed only to collect likes (the popular “rate for a like” post, for instance, offers to rate friends on a scale in exchange for a like). They may follow “Instagram stars” with hundreds of thousands of followers, observing what appear to be perfect lives that are, in reality, perfectly curated.

Not so with Snapchat, where audience participation is minimal. There is no “like” button to be found here, and no unwritten rule of reciprocity. Users have two choices to share content: post a Story, where the app will stitch together a slide show of your content from the last 24 hours; or share directly with a person or group of your choosing. You can see who watched your Story, but viewers can’t reply. That means you spend more time sharing and consuming, and less time worrying about who liked you and who didn’t.

Australia Instagram star Essena O’Neill quits ‘unhealthy’ social media

This screengrab shows popular Instagram user Essena O'Neill

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A teenage Instagram star has made an emotional statement about the dark side of social media, editing the captions of her own pictures saying they were artificial and self-promoting.

With more than 500,000 followers on Instagram, Australian Essena O’Neill, 18, earned an income from social media. She became a social media celebrity through posting images of her apparently picture perfect lifestyle. She now says it left her feeling empty and addicted to social media likes.

“I’ve also spent hours watching perfect girls online, wishing I was them. When I became ‘one of them’, I still wasn’t happy, content or at peace with myself.”

She said she was re-editing captions on the remaining photos hosted on her Instagram account to reveal “manipulation, mundanity and insecurity”.

Instagram Has Become a Body-Image Battleground

Vin

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[Vin] Diesel, the actor in the “Fast and Furious” series, posted a response to the accusation he had a “dad bod” on his [Instagram] feed over the weekend, writing, “Body-shaming is always wrong!” He then followed up with a shot flashing his (pretty pronounced) abs.

It suggests that the social media platform could become something of a soapbox for this particular issue. Perhaps even the most effective soapbox.

It makes sense, after all, since body image, while a psychological issue, begins with optics, and Instagram is first and foremost an optical platform. Mr. Diesel’s words convey his position, but his picture shuts the debate down.

In any case, I don’t think this was necessarily part of the Instagram remit from the start, but the folks who administer the platform might start paying attention. There’s a lot of focus at the moment on what the platform can do for fashion, and on its retail potential, but it seems to me it may have at least as much, if not more, potential as the fulcrum of the national conversation on size and health.

Campus Suicide and the Pressure of Perfection

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Classmates seemed to have it all together. Every morning, the administration sent out an email blast highlighting faculty and student accomplishments. Some women attended class wearing full makeup. Ms. DeWitt had acne. They talked about their fantastic internships. She was still focused on the week’s homework. Friends’ lives, as told through selfies, showed them having more fun, making more friends and going to better parties. Even the meals they posted to Instagram looked more delicious.

In 2003, Duke jolted academe with a report describing how its female students felt pressure to be “effortlessly perfect”: smart, accomplished, fit, beautiful and popular, all without visible effort. At Stanford, it’s called the Duck Syndrome. A duck appears to glide calmly across the water, while beneath the surface it frantically, relentlessly paddles.

“Nobody wants to be the one who is struggling while everyone else is doing great,” said KahaariKenyatta, a Penn senior who once worked as an orientation counselor. “Despite whatever’s going on — if you’re stressed, a bit depressed, if you’re overwhelmed — you want to put up this positive front.”

Citing a “perception that one has to be perfect in every academic, cocurricular and social endeavor,” the task force report described how students feel enormous pressure that “can manifest as demoralization, alienation or conditions like anxiety or depression.”

In the era of social media, such comparisons take place on a screen with carefully curated depictions that don’t provide the full picture. Mobile devices escalate the comparisons from occasional to nearly constant.

Exclusion in the Instagram Age: How Can They be Having Such a Great Time Without Me?

Instagram and Exclusion

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If you ask a group of kids if they ever felt left out when they see images or videos posted in apps like Instagram, Vine or Snapchat, they will have a lot to say. Each of these apps can include images and videos of groups of other friends that may not include the viewer.

When I posed this question to this group, the middle schoolers all said that this happens all the time—and can be hard to deal with. They all agreed that it is better not to lie or make excuses if you are busy with one group of friends and another friend wants to hang out. Better to say, “I have plans” than to lie and say, “I have too much homework,” and then share images of yourself at spending time with other friends.

I asked them if they think kids post images with the intention of making others feel excluded. Most of the kids were reluctant to admit it—they’ve been on both sides of this issue. One boy suggested that other kids post pictures in the moment without really thinking about it.

…They were able to admit that if they had other friends over, it might be tempting to take and share pictures. When I asked why she would share pictures at all, one girl said that she wants to “show that she has a life outside of school.” Another kid said, “it is fun to share when you are doing fun things.” Other kids pointed out that social media is a way to mark the moment and preserve memories.