“Drake looks like voldemort with hair” #RT?

Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will never hurt us, right? Boston College professor, Peter Gray, recently wrote an article about the decline of student resilience. In it, he cites an incident where a student was traumatized after her roommate swore at her. Additionally, he mentions a time when two students called 911 and sought counseling after discovering a mouse in their off-campus apartment. Clearly, this is a problem. Not only does declining student resilience become a hindrance to over-booked counselors, but it also makes it harder to navigate the trials of everyday life. An encounter with an angry roommate or a bad test grade can cause students to break down.

It’s difficult to say why our generation struggles with resilience, but it likely related to how we were raised. Helicopter parenting has become the norm and increasing pressure to get into the most prestigious colleges and industries has pushed many to seek perfection at all times. This can be a dangerous mindset. Not only is it unrealistic, but it leads to constant disappointments as extremely high expectations cannot be attained. The Head of Counseling mentioned:

Failure and struggle need to be normalized. Students are very uncomfortable in not being right. They want to re-do papers to undo their earlier mistakes. We have to normalize being wrong and learning from one’s errors.

Collectively, we don’t take criticism well and are uneasy with being incorrect. How can we become more resilient? Sometimes, it’s best to laugh.

Jimmy Kimmel does a Mean Tweets segment. If you haven’t seen it, check it out here. Essentially, celebrities read mean tweets about themselves on air. Not only is it funny, it allows for celebrities to poke fun of themselves. Further, it reminds the viewers that celebrities are human, too, even if it’s easy to forget that when we see them parading around the Red Carpet. Hurtful tweets affect everyone. In the quest for followers, civility is often replaced with sarcasm.

Considering how vicious and resentful the Internet can be, Mean Tweets is a nice break to laugh about some of the ridiculous things people tweet. Below are some of my favorites:

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After reading the tweets aloud, the celebrities often frown or feign sadness. The handles of those who sent the hurtful tweets are displayed as subtle call out.

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These examples are humorous when directed towards our favorite celebrities, but they also point to the ease of cyberbullying. We laugh when someone makes fun of the work or appearance of celebrities, but would it be so humorous if it was directed towards you? A study by Vodafone found that 1 in 5 teens have been cyberbullied, a fifth of whom feel suicidal. This is a huge percentage of the teenage population.

In a survey of 5,000 teenagers in 11 countries, they found:

More than half of teenagers think cyberbullying is worse than face-to-face bullying and 43 per cent believe it to be a bigger problem for young people than drug abuse.

That’s pretty shocking. Legislation often addresses substance abuse problems, but social media has yet to receive the same kind of regulation. As Kabrina Chang mentioned in her guest lecture, social media and the law is still a developing relationship.

When we say something rude about a person or to a person’s face, it can be repeated, but not with the same venom. When we write something, the tone is often hard to detect. Humor can come across as bitter invective. Although social media can create a negative environment full of criticism and anger, it can also push us to accept that being universally well-liked is an impossible feat. It may be best to laugh at ourselves and acknowledge the haters. Accepting criticism is a learned skill and developing a thicker skin will benefit in the workplace, classroom, and beyond.

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11 comments

  1. Haha the mean tweets made my day! It’s such a shame how we are raised in environments where we aren’t trained to be resilient anymore. From a physical perspective, growing up in Jersey City and attending public schools my whole life until Boston College has definitely forced me to become very resilient and brush off some unfortunate sides of life. But this resilience definitely translates to social media as well, where society can actually be a lot more hurtful behind the shroud of computer screens and keyboards. It’s a shame how many articles we come across regarding cyber bullying and drastic measures people (Teenagers especially) take to deal with these bullying efforts. The lack of accountability on social media is a big part of what makes it so special by creating this clear divide between reality and almost-reality, but that divide is also what promulgates some of the harshest inputs from users. Legal accountability will be necessary, but in the mean time, lets start raising our kids a little tougher and more resilient, while also raising them to be more respectful even on social media.

  2. Lauren, thats an amazing post. I loved the title : you totally got my attention with “Drake”. When looking at the content, that mean JimmyKemmel segment was new to me. I found myself checking youtube to search for all the mean celebrity comments that were out on the show . Cyberbullying has definitely been increasing over time, and its something people should be careful about. AS you said, it is very hard to detect the tone used in comments sometimes. When we read about the #Justinehaslanded incident, Justine’s comment was supposed to be sarcastic, but because we as readers didnt get the humor behind her words, her life collapsed ahead of us. Cyberbullying has definately become much easier right now, with the internet and the social media innovations. Loved the photos you posted, they were very funny. Thanks for sharing this post !

  3. Nice post, Lauren. Mean Tweets is definitely one of my fav parts of the program. In our Business Intel class we read this article on how people’s behavior change when they know they are being watched. I think it’s the same with internet – the anonymity definitely helped to bring out the bully in many. However, I tend to think that those who bully others on the internet are ultimately insecure people looking to get satisfied with their perceived power. Although I don’t typically receive negative comments online, when I used to be active on Weibo, a completely open platform, I did receive abusive comments from random strangers once or twice. However, when I think about it that way, it really takes all the negative feelings away. Also, your post reminds me of Lizzie Velasque. Once referred to as the “ugliest girl in the world”, she is now a motivational speaker with nearly 600k followers on Instagram and a movie made after her story. ( http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-ouch-30948179) It’s really all about the perspective and how you choose to deal with the negative pressure.

  4. ashleighpopera · ·

    You make some really great points here! First off, love the Mean Tweets segment. We’ve definitely touched on cyberbullying a lot in class this year, and I think showing how people even go out of their way to say these things to celebrities, that they don’t personally know, says a lot about how prevalent it is.
    As for resilience, I can see how social media can play a direct role in its decline amongst our generation. We constantly compare and judge both ourselves and others on social media based on profiles, and the pressure to keep up what we perceive to be others’ expectations of us can be exhausting. I think sensitivity plays a large role in this as it seems people almost expect negative judgment online these days, and I can definitely see how this influences real-life expectations.

  5. I LOVE how you provided comic relief in this post through the title and through the Jimmy Kimmel segment. I actually laughed outloud reading the Q-Tip one. Cyberbullies don’t seem to always be the most clever…

    The biggest issue about cyberbullying vs. traditional in-person bullying, is the fact that cyberbullying more easily dehumanizes the victim. I definitely think this is why the Jimmy Kimmel segment is effective, since it shows the bullies that who they are making fun of not is just a twitter handle or a Facebook page, but a real person.

    Your mention of the article by Peter Gray and the quote by the head of counseling really help to effectively prove your point about how we tend to take everything too seriously. I wonder if the negativity we are seeing on social media is decreasing our ability to take things lightly and laugh at our mistakes. Great blog post!

  6. I love the mean tweets segment! The q-tip one always cracks me up, it’s so dumb that you can only laugh about it.
    I think the fact that we are less resilient also ties into the fact that with social media we are under a lot more pressure to get good grades, look a certain way, wear the right clothes, be part of the right clubs and activities, basically be perfect. No one can live up to this and it’s bad enough that we used to see “perfect” people on tv, in movies and magazines, now we also see real people on social media supposedly living perfect lives. Unfortunately, I think this makes insecure people with low self-esteem lash out at people they perceive to be better than themselves. What’s even more scary it that the study we talked about a few weeks ago in class had found that 21% of 13-year olds checked social media to see if someone was saying something mean about them. (http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/05/health/being-13-teens-social-media-study/)

  7. The mean tweets segment is awesome. It’s one of my favorite segments to watch. I like that it brings humor to some tweets that are actually meant to be malicious. I think a lot of people hide behind social media in order to bring others down and it’s honestly sad. Jealousy emanates from people who try to make fools of others and it’s one of the worst uses of social media. On the other hand, I like that celebrities have the opportunity to see what regular people think of them and they have the opportunity to respond to people and show that they are real people. I love how celebrities have access to speak up about cyberbullying and voice their opinion on what matters. Speaking on how people could get traumatized from certain situations, celebrities could leverage social media and make an immediate impact on someone’s life.

  8. I love watching the mean tweet segment simply for its humor. I never realized how large of an impact these videos can have on those struggling with cyberbullying. When teens see their idols making light of bullying they themselves may be less bothered by comments made at them. These videos also make the cyberbullies look bad. However, I think it would be great for celebrities to speak out against cyberbullying during these segments to make it more clear that these tweets are wrong. We all have to learn that we can not always be perfect. We must better accept criticism and move on. Great post!

  9. Loved this! Was actually laughing out loud when I read the mean tweets.
    As for the resilience issue, I definitely think that social media has played a big part. We were lucky enough to only have social media influence our lives more recently, but I often wonder about my nieces and nephews that grew up within social media networks. Great post!

  10. I think the “filter bubble” of SM is one reason we are a bit less able to handle criticism. We can seek out people like us. Of course, Cyberbullying allows the piling on of negative comments much faster than ever possible before. I do like the mean tweets segment, as I think it’s a subtle (or not so subtle) comment on society having anonymized people online.

  11. Nice post, Lauren. Really enjoyed the inclusion of Peter Gray’s research!

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