Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Instagram: I'm More Popular Than You Are

Remember the good old days when posting a photo on instagram was just about showing friends what you were up too? Well no more, especially if you are the parent of a teenage girl. The article below is definitely required reading for Instagram 101. I will summarize, but I not only encourage you to read it for yourselves, but also make it required reading for your teen, and then get their take on how this phenomenon affects them personally.

Accumulating "likes" is the least of instagram, but a really important part of it. If I post a photo and get "a million likes," I am popular, at least for that photo. But I also have to "like" other people's photo's so that when I have posted, they will like me back! It is a game of tit for tat, that goes on 24/7. No respite. If few people like your photo, then you feel "instashame." A term teenagers have coined for the absence of "popularity and "likes" on instagram. This is very serious business, and I'm actually not joking.

We have a whole generation of kids basing their self-esteem on how many kids "like" some silly photo they have posted. Its no wonder so many kids have depression! Seriously!!

Here are some other strategies teens use to raise or lower the popularity of their supposed friends:

  • being tagged in a photo even if you're not in it = popular
  • commenting on a photo you "like" with a "TBH ILYSM" (translation: to be honest I love you so much = popular
  • commenting on a photo with "TBH we don't hang out that much" = not popular
  • refusing to follow someone who is following you on instagram, is basically a F##k you!
  • being cropped out of a photo that you were originally in, a big F##k you!
  • giving your friendship a public 1-10 rating. This could mean popular or outcast depending on where you land on the scale
  • seeing all your friends in a photo posted on instagram from a party or sleepover, let's you know that you were excluded from an event you think you should have been at =feeling really really bad.
The article gets into the specifics so I will leave the author to finish your education. More importantly is what you do with this information. Here is one thing you shouldn't do: When you talk to your teen, do not lecture or pass judgement on the ridiculousness of this pastime. Of course from an adult perspective it is ridiculous! But seen through the eyes of your teen, it is serious business. And if you want your teen to be able to process their feelings about this, you need to start where they are. Which is to say to them: "I get how important this is in your life. It both gives you a lot of power to make your friends feel really good or really bad, and it also gives your friends power to make you feel really good or really bad. Tell me what this is like for you? Are their days that you feel bad because you don't feel like you've gotten enough "likes"? Do you think you have made someone else feel bad by not "liking' their photos?

Parents, you really do have to have conversations in ernest about this. I know it may make you gag, and want to take their phone and throw it out the window. I know I would. You can't do that, but you can limit the amount of time they can obsess about this. Please shut your teen's phone off during school, and for a few hours a night, whether they have homework or not. They will hate you for a week or two, but ultimately will feel relief that they can get off the endless cycle of "likes" and worry about what their friends are thinking about them. Their teenage brain is overloading on this stuff, and too much of this can be toxic!

1 comment:

  1. Took me time to read all the comments, but I really enjoyed the article. It proved to be very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here!
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