We live and breath social media now. Digital natives are born into a world where social media is as necessary or more necessary than food and water.
As human beings we have some basic human needs, according to Maslow’s Eight Basic Needs, belonging and self-esteem are two of the top four. He says that with-out these we lack motivation to continue moving forward or growing, and we become uncomfortable with our state.
CBS has an article titled ‘Living in Live Time’. This article has sub articles, and the one I would like to bring to your attention is the one titled ‘Social Media’s Impact on Girls’. This article is particularly interesting because the severity of the impact on girls is huge. In many ways we all agree with this article in the sense that new media is not all bad, but it is hard to ignore the new social norms it has brought to life.
One hundred years ago even just fifty years ago it was not so easy for us to be instantly connected. Within the last two decades the fast progression of technology and its new media outlets that allow a participatory culture, we have joined a world of instant connection. And with that we are now becoming more aware of its instant consequences.
CBS makes an extremely powerful statement when they say “Social media’s incomparable reach and the ability to post images like these (sexy pictures) have left today’s young women increasingly hypersexualized, cyberbullied and more body conscious with each passing post.” 92 percent of American Teenagers surveyed report going online daily with 24 percent saying they go online ‘almost constantly’. Our youth has gotten access to smartphones and personal laptops earlier and earlier with each coming generation. New Media has found a way to make itself increasingly accessible, meaning our youth finds it easier and easier to access social media networks, sing up and log in. Their survey also discovered that girls were overall more likely than boys to use these sites.
Maslow tells us that our need for self-esteem is part of our fundamental requirement of respect. We seek out others to establish our sense of fulfillment and success. As we develop mentally we describe it as feelings of industry or feelings of inferiority. As teenagers that feeling is fed by our peers. This article points out that the way teen girls receive these affirmations is via likes, shares, tags, mentions, positive comments, retweets, followers, or FB friends.
Our need then for belonging has been necessary for survival. For example, we needed to be part of a tribe to be protected from the wild, fed and cared for as children. In this world of new media, we are looking to be part of online communities. How do we know if we belong? Well by the number of followers we have, or by the number of Facebook friends we obtain. Our new world is becoming more and more online but, that world has its conditions and asks us for things in exchange for our sense of belonging.
For young girls those conditions are sexy pictures, or derogatory conversations. With privacy becoming a looser term every day, it is harder for parents to protect their teens from this, or social media outlets to prevent it, and much less for young girls to forget about it and put in their past. Instead they are constantly prayed on and then haunted by the consequences of their compliance.