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Culture Social media

Using social media and blogging for change: Influencer advocates for people with a disability

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Want a light – hearted story?

Peta Hooke is a social media influencer.

People may look at the terms ‘social media influencer’ and have certain ideas. Chances are, Peta Hooke doesn’t fit those ideas.

She has cerebral palsy and uses a an electric wheelchair.

Hooke uses Instagram to advocate for people with disabilities.

At first, Hooke was hesitant. She told ABC Life that she feared that Instagram wasn’t a safe place for people with disabilities.

I remember when Instagram became a thing in my friendship group in the summer of 2011. At the time, Instagram didn’t feel like a safe space for someone like me.

Hooke worried that Instagram was just another platform for the privileged.

Hooke joined Instagram

Hooke ended up joining Instagram. She created a heavily private account and she admired attractive influencers.

She then started a podcast and used Instagram to promote her advocacy.

She said utilising Instagram made her “sick with dread”.

Despite her fears, no one laughed at Hooke. In fact, she has built up a supportive community of followers.

Using social media for advocacy

Since building a following, Hooke has used her daily life and content to educate and change minds. She also aims to expand what people define as having a disability.

She wants to inspire people with disabilities:

I hope through my presence on Instagram I am implicitly encouraging other disabled people to find the same power.

People with disabilities need visibility. And chances

Black woman in wheelchair on a footpath down the street
Image: iStock

When I first read about Peta Hooke, I thought it was great. People with disabilities: physical, intellectual or mental need a chance.

They need chances to live and to work, just like anyone else. Unfortunately, people with disabilities are over represented in unemployment statistics.

Having people with disabilities visible and mainstream is important. People need to realise that people with disabilities are just people. They may need a little help or slight adjustments. They can be a baser to society when given the chance.

Challenging beauty standards and influencer culture

It’s great that Hooke uses her platform to challenge beauty standards and influencer culture. People are becoming more and more aware of the damage social media can do. For years, people have worried about teens and influencer culture’s impact on their self – esteem and mental health.

Creator and former Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has even admitted that platforms like Instagram were made to be addictive. Algorithms are deliberately programmed in a way to make certain images popular.

A call to able – bodied people

Anyone can be a part of the change. For those in privileged positions, please consider supporting content creators from marginalised communities.

Like, share and follow their content. Show other people the talents and abilities of people with disabilities. And for those who do support content creators with disabilities (including my followers), thank you very much.

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Categories
Culture Social media

Instagram linked to poor mental health in young people

Instagram app on device
Image: iStock

The Wall Street Journal uncovered troubling findings on the impact Instagram has on teens.

Instagram’s parent company Facebook Inc conducted the research.

One slide from Facebook’s internal message board last year claimed:

Thirty-two percent of teen girls said when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse.

Another slide noted:

Comparisons on Instagram can change how young women view and describe themselves

Facebook Inc has conducted the research over three years. The consistent findings are worrying.

While not a cause, Instagram has shown to exacerbate depression, anxiety, eating disorders and suicidal ideation. 13% British and 6% of American teens blamed Instagram for their suicidal ideation.

Facebook CEO and Head downplay the findings

Not surprisingly, Facebook Inc has downplayed worrying findings.

Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg argued:

The research that we’ve seen is that social apps to connect with other people can have positive mental-health benefits.

Likewise, Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri has also minimised the findings, claiming size of the issue was “quite small”.

Instagram banks on young people

Young people are abandoning Facebook. They have been for almost a decade. However, the number of young people using Instagram has exploded.

People aged twenty-two and under make up 40% of Instagram’s users. On average, US teens spend 50% more time on Instagram than Facebook.

That’s why Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Instagram’s Head Adam Mosseri has downplayed the alarming research. At a Congressional Hearing in March this year, Zuckerberg argued:

The research that we’ve seen is that using social apps to connect with other people can have mental-health benefits

Mosseri downplayed the issues. He said the extent of the problem was “quite small”.

Of course, Mosseri and Zuckerberg will want to minimise links between Facebook, Instagram and youth mental health. Young people on Instagram have become their cash cow.

Instagram and the exploitation of underage children

Canadian Youtuber and podcaster, Josh Barbour is vocal against influencers who exploit children. His campaign was triggered by Myka and James Stauffer’s adoption and ‘rehoming’ of a Chinese child. (I’m not going to use the name the Stauffers gave him).

The case exploded Barbour’s channel, The Dad Challenge Podcast. Since then, Barbour has exposed a whole underbelly of child exploitation on social media.

Piper Rockelle and Liliana K

Two revolting instances of children being exploited on Instagram are Liliana Ketchman (aka Liliana K) and Piper Rockelle.

 

I remember when I saw his video on Ketchman, her account was mass reported. Liliana was underage (twelve, I think). Unfortunately, Instagram refused to take the account down. Reason? Her ‘mother’ (I use that term loosely) ran the account.

I was infuriated. I seriously thought about deleting my Instagram accounts.

A few months later, Barbour exposed the exploitation of Piper Rockelle. Unlike Liliana K, Rockelle was over the age limit (she was fourteen, I think).

The images are beyond revolting.

For me, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I deleted both my Instagram accounts. Please note,  I don’t begrudge those who still have an Instagram account.

However, if people delete their accounts in revolt, I’m all for it. People should hold Facebook Inc accountable.

Platforms like YouTube and Instagram are potentially putting children in danger. The full impact on child influencer culture is yet to be seen.

 

I’ll be fair to Mark Zuckerberg for a second. Do I believe that he  deliberately created Instagram to exploit children? No. But he is responsible. And Facebook Inc is failing a whole generation.

I’m passionate about mental health. I think that mental health care, especially therapies, should be free for clients. If you feel the same consider signing the Green’s petition hereYou can also write to your MP.

Categories
Culture Social media

Social media: is it a platform for honesty?

 

Facebook logo
Image: Canva

 

 

 

On Tuesday, Channel Ten’s The Project Mitch Wallis, who said that he had a breakdown when taking a trip in Kentucky.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FTheProjectTV%2Fvideos%2F10154638796028441%2F&show_text=0&width=560

The breakdown spurred Wallis on to start a campaign “Heart on My Sleeve” on both Twitter and Facebook, encouraging people to be honest about their experiences and feelings on social media.

 

I think it’s a good, and frankly, brave idea (I’ll explain why in a sec).

When on social media, especially Facebook and Instagram, most people only upload photos and write posts that reflect the best aspects of their lives. The happy holiday snaps, the cute kids when they aren’t fighting and (usually) not crying, the happy couple pics, you get the idea.

So, I scrolled through the Heart on My Sleeve Facebook Page recently, and it’s quite brutally honest. If you read the pinned post I embedded above, you’d know what I mean. That’s good.

Here’s the thing, will this campaign take off and change the way people view and use social media? That’s what I’m a bit skeptical about.

I said that this campaign was “brave” because people who are too honest on social media, they often get a backlash, either online or in their personal lives. This is especially true when it comes to conflicts with others. And I get that, to be honest. Unless it’s something to do with the law or something terrible has happened, it’s probably best to work out conflicts among you and the person you have issues with.

So, that’s obvious. But what about talking about things like depression, mental breakdowns, grief? What about photos that don’t look the best? Now, I’ve got to say that my Facebook friends are quite honest in how they’re doing. But for some people, especially younger people, this can be intimidating, especially when a backlash is likely.

Thing is, some – if not most people – only want to hear and read certain things and are, unfortunately, critical of people when they aren’t. So, how do we change this mindset? How do we get rid of the fear of backlash because we may have posted something someone may not like? Also, in terms of mental health, when should someone just seek professional help, rather than airing it online? Is there a potential risk that airing certain things will only exacerbate the problems?

Maybe this campaign can extend to honesty in everyday life, not just on social media. Are you OK? if not, talk to someone, a friend, partner, family member or a professional. We all need someone who we can be honest with. Will it work with three hundred “friends” (I think the average number of friends someone has on Facebook)? Not sure.

I think something could be said about this, for both online and the real world (probably the latter more so). And that’s we need to let people be who they are and express how they feel and let ourselves do the same thing. For some people, social media or a blog may be an ideal platform – at least to an extent. But, for others, it may be better to do things more privately; one on one or in a small group. At least then, you may get more sympathy and/ or understanding. Whatever works, I guess. Anything that prevents someone bottling up too much must be a good thing.

What do you think of the Heart on My Sleeve campaign and honesty on social media? Do you think it’ll ever become a regular thing? Leave your thoughts below.