The Aww, The Oh! & The Ugly
Written by Carolyn Fast, YWCA Niagara Region
I guess I am a fence sitter when it comes to social media. Mine is the generation that pioneered the phrase, “You’ve Got Mail”, or was that Meg Ryan? Certainly it was our longsuffering that lead the way from dial up to wireless. Yet, I must admit, that the speed at which social media has evolved since then has left me a little breathless, as I shake off the dust and saddle up for my next mobile experience. My most recent adventure as Community & Public Relations Coordinator here at the YW is an interesting twist to say the least. I feel the weight and responsibility of watching my words on a daily basis as I attempt to cohesively and intentionally reflect the voice of an organization that is far reaching in its scope and incredible capacity to empower women.
Public posting on a personal level is another matter all together-or is it?
Making the headlines not that long ago, was the shut down of Toronto mother, Heather Bays, Instagram account. In case you aren’t entirely sure what Instagram is, let me save you the trouble of looking it up. Instagram, according to their home page, is “a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your life with friends and family.” Heather, a professional photographer, posted the black and white photo that her husband snapped to mark the end of her breastfeeding days, as her child was in the process of weaning. While her breast is certainly distinguishable, I have to say that it is the smile on her face that captivates my attention. Many Instragram users came to her defence, protesting that there were far more revealing photos posted throughout the site that did not cause people to bat an eye. In particular, photos of models showing some skin seemed to be accepted as completely appropriate and viewer friendly.
Then there are the more sinister sides of public posting as in the case of Phillip Scott Burgess, whose messages on Facebook encouraging people to riot and “put Manchester on the map” landed him 3 years in the slammer. To be fair to Mr. Burgess, his posts fell within the context of other riots that were rippling throughout the UK at the time, in response to the shooting of 29 year old Mark Duggar. Yet the judge determined that Burgess’s posts incited hostility that directly intensified the raiding, looting and violence that erupted in August 2011.
Bullying through social media has reached new heights as the list of young people taking their own lives continues to grow. In 2010, Amanda Todd, a seventh grader from Port Coquitlam, was lured by a stranger to bare her breasts via a webcam during a video chat. That was when the nightmare began, as the man who possessed the images relentlessly stalked and bullied Amanda online for the next two years. After two years of changing schools, relocating to another city, cutting, attempted suicide and more bullying, Amanda, now 15 years old, made a final video post on You Tube entitled My Story: Struggling, bullying, suicide and self-harm. Using a series of flashcards, the teen shared how bullying had impacted her, foreshadowing her painful exit from the planet. This April, two years after her death, Dutch police arrested a 35 year old man believed to be connected to the exploitation and extortion of AmandaTodd.
Bottom line- there is a price to pay for posting.
Good or bad, there is an outcome that occurs when we engage with social media. Often we, like the Toronto breastfeeding mom on Instagram, think nothing of posting pics of everyday moments that mean something to us for all to see. Our everyday excursions to Pinterest, daily jaunts through the internet and momentary Tweets create a virtual reality that can feel pretty cozy. Cozy, until reality rears its ugly head and we are reminded, as in the case of Amanda Todd, that there are predators skirting through chat rooms searching for their next victim. It is a fine line to walk for a fence sitter like me. In closing, I am reminded of the wisdom of the old adage “Do Unto Others ..”, and I wonder about its application within our current space in time. I may be grasping at straws but I think it could read something like this:
“Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t want plastered on a billboard with your face on it.” Erin Bury, Community Manager at Sprouter, erinbury.com
Images used courtesy of Google Images and evelynslxx.
What’s Public & What’s the Limit?
Written by Carli Taylor, YWCA Niagara Region
We’ve all been there. Scrolling through one of our various social media forums when all of a sudden there before you is a picture. A picture with power. One that induces emotion. And my how those emotions range depending on the content.
It seems lately that there is no limit to what people will post. As it seems there is also no limit to what people will react to- whether good or bad, and often with a healthy dose of both. It would also seem that many feel entitled to insert their opinion or stir the pot, add a word of encouragement or slap someone down with their superiority. All because it was posted in “public.”
I for one try to keep my opinion to myself. Unless it really ticks me off—or really makes me all gooey inside. HA!
I’ll lend you my last two examples:
A beautiful new mother is sharing a beautiful moment with her newborn—she is breastfeeding him. My opinion is that this picture is beautiful, natural, healthy and needed in a society as self-obsessed as ours. That, it in fact, shows less than the Sears catalogue bra section. Another person’s opinion is that she is a terrible mother. That she is sexualizing breastfeeding. That she is disgusting.
And then there is Adam Levine. Totally and completely naked. Standing there with both a smirk and a little embarrassment in his eyes. Behind him, there is a pair of female hands, snaking in between his legs ‘covering’ his…maleness… (for lack of a better word.) The rest of the woman is hidden from view, nowhere to be seen. My initial reaction? Oh my… yum.
But then this uncomfortable feeling sets in. Realization. Anger. And now I’m offended. Offended? Yes. I’m offended that it’s completely okay to post something this graphic, and hardly a word is said about it, but a woman feeding her child can get her banned from that same site. Posting a picture of a woman giving sustenance can and does open the door to criticism, demoralization, name calling and disgust.
Most times I can pass by something and ask myself if it’s truly worth getting involved in- if it truly affects me. Sometimes I have an absolute need to express my opinion. I’m no better than anyone else. Though they are often well thought out, censored and re-read a few times before hitting enter, I do however, occasionally give in. I too feel that by posting something for the world to see, it opens the door for people, strangers to comment on it.
I’m not a blaze the trail kind of girl…in fact I can be very private for the most part. So odds are, you aren’t going to find a picture of me that invites too much opinion. However, I am the kind of girl who can live and let live. Although I am the kind of girl that feels posting something that invites negative and lengthy conversation probably isn’t worth it, I can certainly applaud those that do.