Thursday, 26 September 2019

My Opinion About Dr. Phil On Meeting Today's Cinderella as a Social Media Influencer

My Opinion about Dr. Phil On Meeting Today’s Cinderella as a Social Media Influencer

                 The race for cheap, unearned attention is a race that can’t be won. As soon as someone gains the lead, someone else will lower their standards and take a shortcut to get even more. The players have already surrendered their self-esteem, so it’s simply an escalating hijack of trust. And so we have dark patterns, once-respected media outlets with shameless headlines and an entire industry based on click bait, come-ons and trickery. 
Seth Godin

Well, Dr. Phil, as a psychologist and an arbiter of our society, seems to be taking another look at social media impacts. Recently, Sept. 12, he had a show called Desperate for Insta-Fame. He introduced a 21-year-old woman called Jessy who spent over 11 hours a day researching, planning and taping outrageous content for likes and follows.

There she sat with long black hair, heavy eye makeup, lacquered lips, expensive cut-out pumps with Cinderella glass heels, and long fingernails curling into glossy arcs with sequined flower details…very exclusive, waving them in front of Dr. Phil.

She was proud to have 100,000 Instagram followers who looked forward to her posts, the more offensive the better. She bragged the more stupid you act, the more views you get. Her motto is "Do What Others Won’t Do" like stealing a sandwich off a customer’s plate and running away on video tape. It’s the shock value where people “hate to love you,” she explained. My head spins, is this the be-nasty fuel, the ignition on social media? 

She bragged about her celebrity status standing out in parties and hooking up with guys but only if they had more followers than her. Then her Tweeter and  Instagram were temporarily shut down because of racist tweets which were reactive to other posts not personal at all she said. But her despair had hit the worst possible tragedy from making 500K dollars, as claimed, to living off food stamps with beautiful fingernails and shoes. She was “nothing without her followers.” But exactly, who are these faithful subjects with nothing better to do than watch fools making fun of themselves?

When faced by a life counselor who outlined the values of being yourself but only better (title of his book), she dapped away a few tears saying she didn’t have much parental guidance or friends. 

Dr. Phil asked her to do one thing every day over 5 days to turn her life around. The advice was to go to a soup kitchen or homeless shelter and serve lunch to people who truly had nothing and no excuses.

I don’t know, Dr. Phil, if serving people as a scullery maid will enlighten her potential in the real or virtual world. Can her brain ingrained with so much self-flattery and disrespecting rights of others over years on social media be changed with a few hours of volunteer work?

We are all familiar with Cinderella, a poor mistreated girl who finds her dream through magic fairies turning pumpkins into royal coaches and a glass slipper who wins the hand of a prince to live happily ever after. But what about the magical domains in today’s changing world especially for young teenage girls?

Certainly, social media dominates the landscape and celebrities rule. We are socially engaged to a  new princess or prince called the influencers who oversee some of the largest gatherings found on YouTube and Instagram. We admire and trust them to buy their choices of fashion, food, entertainment, sports, colleges or favorite restaurants. 

For example, a top You Tuber with 100,000 loyal followers or more can expect to generate thousands from advertisements by plugging their favorite products or stores.  An Instagram user with 100,000 followers can command $5,000 for a post made in partnership with a company or brand.

There are three points here. One, as consumers, we have always followed trends or word of mouth recommendations. Two, what kind of consumerism is based on the flagrant and outrageous behavior of a selfie brand that says I am so crazy but respect me,  like me and follow me? How does stupidity become a trend? Third, there is no doubt that social engagement and personal information are  today’s currency, easy to collect and manipulate.  

However, the big question is how fair is this to vulnerable teenagers as to what to like, where to go and who your friends are; not withstanding these bizarre selfie-jesters who juggle craziness for viral fame by stealing sandwiches or licking ice cream containers in supermarkets.

As a retired teacher who understands the learning process,  I can only shake my head at the lack of basic subject matter for teenagers, especially girls, about the power of social media and how to contain its forces for personal growth and development, not distraction, amorality and futility.  

In my opinion, we need far more serious intervention to reset social norms than a week of KP duty to win the battle. To that need, I wrote an e-book Teen Girl Faces Time in the Sand for three main reasons:

1. How to stop social media from taking advantage of a rash and brash teenage brain still in development

2. How to start looking at value of Time and power of choice as a superpower tool to avoid making bad mistakes that may affect the total Timeline

3. How to use symbols to better discuss what it means to grow up in a mass media world personified here as a Giant Clown Face of epic proportion 

What is your opinion about this modern day Cinderella? Do you think that Dr. Phil's solution will get results? What do you think can help this young woman?

I look forward to your opinions and comments...always important. 

Annemarie Berukoff
833 471 4661 

Today the real tragedy with young people is how to overcome the huge problems created by a Giant Media Monster; like a Medusa manipulator using her vast army of words and images to twist, to seduce and undermine the ability of people to think critically and freely. It's like a vast army of fake selfies attacking what's good and normal.

The great personal tragedy is made worse because most young people do not use their real characters to take offensive action but rather create their own fake Selfies to closely reflect what the Media Monster promotes.  These are soldiers on the same side with the same goals which means the Monster wins every time. Like I said before, the Monster has no regret for what it is doing; it will never apologize if you keep liking her artificial ugliness again and again.

PS: Read another blog about Dr. Phil's encounter with viral madness.

PPS: I am always looking for podcast interviews.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

An Essential Metaphor of Culture as a Tree for Teenagers to Understand

An Essential Metaphor of Culture as a Tree for Teenagers to Understand

There is little doubt that the digital technology and social media has already a significant impact on culture. Towards the end of the 19th century artists sough to capture their subjects through portraits of individuals who were absorbed in the act of reading a book. Today, it is the pictures of people standing in the middle of a crowd, captivated by what they are reading on their smartphone that best symbolizes the 21st century subject.        Professor Frank Furedi

Culture is everywhere, that is the first fact. Human beings are bound by culture which can be described as the ordinary processes by which a given society observes, trains, tests and finds meanings to its true purposes. Every culture is in active development through contact, experience, education, discovery and active debate or communication.  

Culture can also be segmented for closer interpretation. It creates SOCIAL MORES which are the codes of behavior that are important because they establish manners, customs and habits and add moral significance. SOCIAL NORMS or conventions are created by like-minded people.

Culture can create MEMES which are ideas, symbols, behaviors, styles or even phenomena that can spread from person to person becoming self-redirecting and even mutating through selective pressures.

Who would disagree that our modern-day technology has drastically changed our culture in its directions, observations and meanings?  Every adult, teenager and child are facing changes. Old rules for many are deleted; new rules by a few are imposed and spread like a virus.

My greatest concern is how the obvious pressures of social media disproportionately affect teenagers especially girls. Where did this subculture come from to be perfect with a perfect body, to act perfectly to have the perfect group of friends. If you miss the perfection standard, then you face depression, self-loathing and bullying.

So, let’s imagine in a creative sense, that our culture can be symbolized by a magnificent tree deeply rooted with a sturdy trunk of common values and a crown displaying branches of society’s rules. Our ideas, words and images shine and shimmer as silvery leaves as we experience changes through the seasons.  How horrible it would be if the beautiful sentient leaves of a vital tree can now be displaced by the grinning blank Selfie screens.    

First, look at the deep roots of traditional culture…the tap root is your parents; the lateral roots are your siblings. They encompass our youthful rituals we hold dear; family, community, religion, education, celebration of holidays, birthdays, honoring weddings and funerals and all the other social rites of passage.

Second, let’s say the trunk embodies the traditional values such as honesty, responsibility, discipline, equality, gratitude, respect and the Golden Rule. The thick bark protects the historical significance of a civilized society.

Third, the branches diverge into a cumulative crown  showing the parameters of a well-functioning society including an economy, legalities and politics;  science and knowledge; education, technology and progress; environment and co-existence; arts, literature and music; as well as personal  relevance and wisdom with fairness and ethics…all noble institutions.

But look, there is a different device standing by today’s tree.  Plugged into the trunk is a large cellphone with visible scarring weaving its texture from the trunk up into the branches. 

 A smiling selfie with spaghetti straps is busy texting some kind of momentary impulse.  This insta-image tries to reinforce itself, reflecting  various pouts, poses, postures and outfits using filters to fit in. It wants a heady transpiration of likes, follows and re-posts from random other impulses and selfies.

Looking up at the crown, the glow of the internet permeates the atmosphere like a strip joint. Various social media branches, some huge, some just new twigs show their interfaces. Here and there are seen an assortment of pop stars, reality TV stars and more professional narcissists with webs of  influence capturing these aspiring selfies to be juvenile narcissists, too. Tweets fill the air; hashtags hang like a cloud of spiders on their spinnerets. Novelties inspire excitement.

A kind of cultural appropriation is taking place where the poor and underprivileged are made to feel attuned to the rich and famous by buying into their lifestyles which are not their own, fading away with feelings of inequality, oppression and depression.

We are committing to our cultural paradigm even as we look around. But what exactly are we creating? These new prevailing winds circulate around social media interaction which can incite so much addiction and manipulative behavior based on false cultural values.

Happiness is based on status symbols minus the price tag. Instant gratification, even in filtered states, dominates the sheer ego without effort.  Literacy is not reading and writing but viral images and confetti thoughts abound, many without civility. Attention span and engagement are trivial; there is no reflection or deliberation. Thinking is about comparing each other, skimming and scanning instant platitudes looking for mob crowd applause, the more offensive, the more shareable. It’s possible that parental competition helps to promotes prices and trends for their stylish teens.

Think about this Selfie tool, not with the force of an ax, but with the endless intonation to engage or disengage with a new reality that advertises, full of seductive resources with glitters and sweet appetites. Innocent young brains like attention but have no life experiences to predict adult dilemmas.

Try and smell the air. Can you sense a worthwhile contribution to store as human knowledge or anything philosophical? Or is there a feeling of wasted potential and opportunities mitigated by overt public interests in private data collection of details? Are we pawns helplessly creating new social norms?  Is traditional culture dying a slow death eroded by one painful tweet by one painful tweet?

My concern again focuses on how we protect our young people from  radical memes and habits when they do not even know a world where social media doesn’t exist. How do you manage your ideas or opinions where character is dictated by false role models? Who will pass the torch to the adolescent so that their character doesn't become a causality? Who will help them to stay strong and smart in managing this vast subject matter of viral social reality?  

There is no doubt that this digital world has fundamentally changed the way we work, play, interact and even educate. The bottom line is that social media will continue to change our society in permanent ways both with its advantages and disadvantages. 
Check blog: What About Boyfriend in Closet (from Dr. Phil's show)

What about you? How has social media changed your life for the better? Did I miss any huge negatives that you see? Do you think the world can improve their social networks, for  better or worse? Everybody has an opinion or conviction. The secret, though? Never let your character become a casualty of that reality. It counts for everything.

Annemarie Berukoff
833 471 4661

Today the real tragedy with young people is how to overcome the huge problems created by a Giant Media Monster; like a Medusa manipulator using her vast army of words and images to twist, to seduce and undermine the ability of people to think critically and freely. It's like a vast army of fake selfies attacking what's good and normal.

The great personal tragedy is made worse because most young people do not use their real characters to take offensive action but rather create their own fake Selfies to closely reflect what the Media Monster promotes. These are soldiers on the same side with the same goals which means the Monster wins every time. Like I said before, the Monster has no regret for what it is doing; it will never apologize if you keep liking her artificial ugliness again and again.

She takes a deep breath, "In fact, I believe it behooves society to take another look at what is happening and stop this unnatural domination." Her voice is raised louder than I have ever heard. I know she is angry now, a strange feeling for her.

Saturday, 14 September 2019

What About the Boyfriend in a Closet and the Biggest Question for Dr. Phil?

What About the Boyfriend in a Closet and the Biggest Question for Dr. Phil?

I picture that young living brain in my hands again pulsating to the vibrations of what I think I want to call the Media Monster.  A bigger question crosses my mind about how to protect teenage girls from falling prey to this giant clown face with its cavernous mouth feeding off Celtie Selfies, power-tripping them, stuffing them with stuff the crowds want to see, rather than something that will benefit them as an individual. 

I do not regularly watch Dr. Phil ... lack of time, depressing topics of families hitting rock bottom in full frontal view of the world. But when I do, I am always impressed how he can turn around the most bitter vibes of accusations and dysfunctional relationships to get both sides talking with reasonable tones when focus is on regaining personal truths and traction. Given a choice, don’t most of us want to choose to be better? 

But I did pay attention to one show this week called Social Media Meltdown Parenting Gone Wild.  It centered on two mothers who were live streaming, or posting videos, for what they thought was for their private audience of social media friends; but which reached over 100 million combined views due to the  voracious media’s nature of seeing vengeful feedback verging on psychotic.

Dr. Phil was interested why these women’s buttons were pushed but I was interested in how this giant social media circus swallowed them by the millions and spat out their bones according to their tastes. 

Late one night, the first mother knocked on the door of her 17-year-old daughter’s bedroom  and found a 20-year-old boyfriend hiding in her closet! Out whipped the cellphone with video and out came the most profanity infused dialogue with the furious mother overcome that  her daughter and a visitor were exercising a forbidden dalliance which may be followed on Snapchat but not in her scope of upbringing. How would you feel about this?

Yes, the case can be made that a mother’s disappointment is justified, but what degree of virulent anger and condemnation needs to be posted for other people to stare at, share and maybe joke about? Who looks for this kind of volatile distress for what purpose?       

And, then, unexpected reactions started to surface. First, the daughter defended herself saying, “We are just doing what teenagers do, having fun. Parents just don’t get we are growing up.” 

But what really blows my mind is how abnormal this new social reality has changed  because her girlfriends came to her rescue … applauding her right to hook up with convenience and decrying her mother for interfering and spoiling their fun.  I just can’t stop thinking about this is new kind of cavalry arriving on the scene to protect the trivial frivolity of social media against traditional family values. Such an unnatural state of the young devouring the old.

When did this transition take place that rules and respect and social norms are relegated to second place values behind the first place demands of a rapacious, selfish, immature, momentarily fixated social media culture? 
Then there were so many reactions from other parents who applauded this critical tirade of  her daughter in full rant and view. What were they thinking that this is a good parenting technique to manage their teenagers by yelling, swearing and humiliating their actions? What is the right role model for parenting teenagers in such a risky, persuasive, addictive, peer-pressured, hype-controlled internet environment?        
Dr. Phil’s comments were measured and precise as usual. You do not embarrass a teenager in public…it is one of the worst things to do. Never underestimate the viral power of virtual reality. Data never goes away. Embarrassment never dies.

The second mother became upset after a conversation with police officers and her children’s school and vented with live video on Facebook. Again, a very loud, expletive-filled, threatening voice that so many others found worth their time to watch…for what purpose? It turned out the woman who was bipolar had stopped taking her medications but with words so hateful that the school had to be put into lock down.  A momentary explosion now stamped on virtual reality forever to be watched and shamed.

So, what is to be taken away?

Where does such explosive anger from adults come from?  Are they products themselves of social media interactions where it’s alright to be mean, loud and overpowering without regard for others? 

Is this how technology has brought down social rites of passage to our knees? When did young teenage girls question their rights to have unlimited sex and temper their parents for daring to interfering with their privacy and choices?

Is this how young teenage girls believe they are like-able, mature and responsible players in a Snapchat world dominated by adult prerogatives when their brains are still developing long-term logical consequences?

Where do well-meaning parents turn to find strategies to help their children understand their unique roles in society’s future minus the social media circus? No parent wants their child to make a mistake that can derail their lifetime of positive choices.

Maybe it's time to check out how our culture is taking a beating with Selfie swipes. 
Note this blog: An Essential Metaphor of Culture as a Tree...

If I had a chance the biggest question I would ask Dr. Phil is how in the world did our social discourse degenerate so radically in a short time in this topsy- turvy culture? 

 What are your thoughts about our teenage culture, social media impositions, parent's rights and a hundred million views of distress? 

Questions and comments can make a difference,

1 833 471 4661 

"The best way to describe the next years was as a separate state unto itself called Welcome to the Domain of Celtie Selfies. There were many different interactions, of course; but, if there was a central condition, it would be that we were too young to understand if there was even a problem with the fact that there were so many lies for its own sake. And when somebody lies, they stop telling what is true, and with no truth, they soon lose respect for themselves and others.  No respect means no love to live the normal truth." 

Thursday, 12 September 2019

What If, There is One Common Value All Teen Girls Can Learn to Manage on Social Media?

What If, There is One Common Value All Teen Girls Can Learn to Manage on Social Media?

The sink shot: When a girl takes a selfie in a bathroom mirror, often in a thong, and poses with her behind propped against the sink, so that it will appear larger. Not surprisingly, Kim Kardashian popularized this sort of shot, also known as a “belfie,” or butt selfie.  
Nancy Jo Sales; “American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers”

Researching and writing about today’s teen girls with social media problems is multi-faceted and complicated. What teen girl has enough adult experience to write about her trials and resolutions based on an incomplete timeline? As a retired teacher with full view, I wrote an e-book called Teen Girl Faces Time in the Sand to emphasize the one common value all teen girls share whether they know it or not.  

Here is one critical viewpoint from a reader I'd like to address:

“This is a rather mild-mannered story like Clark Kent talking about a Superwoman challenge. As a parent, I wish I had more answers about my teens online. I live in a small town where there are  too many young girls who party too much with alcohol and drugs. What about the vaping or opioid addiction found in high schools? How can parents identify drug use or open up communication? This is a different story than expected but a timeline on  a string is interesting, if it could be that simple.  Amy D

Here is my response:
Thanks, Amy, for taking time to read this teen e-book. I’m pleased you found that managing a Timeline is interesting because how to respect Time is the message of this short story that ALL teen girls can relate to. The Big Question is to how to apply it in simple terms. 

The difficult challenge in writing about so many different shattered dreams in a new social order, is to find at least this one common thread that every girl can value and that is TIME itself. Not in the sense of measuring by numbers, hours or days, but in managing the experiences that make a difference between the numbers. Every girl wants a good time leading to better times and success; nobody wants to look for having a bad time with worse consequences.

"But time is only the medium not the victim here. It is a 14 year old girl who can become a victim because she can make a mistake that will affect her whole life. How fair is that? Is it her fault or is it the selfish culture around her? There must be a way to stop making the wrong choice at a young age." 
Excerpt: Teen Girl Faces Time in the Sand Timely Tale of Struggles, Regrets and Survival on Social Media.

The biggest challenge still remains, in no uncertain terms, how do you deal with this unfiltered, unsupervised, unprecedented  virtual suspension of normal social rites for teen girls entering into adulthood with too many tragic results. Too many stories from news and personal experiences are written about cyber bullying, suicides, sexual texting and harassment, unwanted pregnancies and family breakdowns, drug addictions and other personal disasters.

It’s impossible not to compare my youth growing up in the 1960’s where our social order was planted with family and focused on education toward a responsible career. At 14 I knew I was a somebody who best spend my time respecting set boundaries with friends and role models who lived close by and mutually liked each other. My biggest problem was what skirt to wear to the high school prom and this small zit private only to my mirror. The first time I heard of something weird called intercourse was at 18 years in a grade 10 PE class by a counselor.

Today, we watch in shock as so many 14 year old girls preen, post  and prime for role models to be a somebody on a social media scale to be measured, evaluated and objectified by popular adult standards, unattainable except to the sensitive teenage brain fueled by dopamine likes and shares where a relationship can be started by sending a nude photo.

Just think, of a traditional story with a simple picture of a young girl facing a greedy wolf ready to devour her innocence of youth. One heroine with one antagonist can be dealt with common sensibility.

As one picture in this story, there is an adolescent damselfly nymph feeding from a giant media clown face in her maturation cycle.  Just think, this adult will perpetuate what it grew up on and it begs the question about what kind of collective wisdom will populate our social culture drawn from this effluence. Note that a damselfly plays the role of the fragility and impermanence of  life.

As a new reality with social media, a young teenage girl needs to find her true self  on a vast technological landscape which itself becomes the monster antagonist ... not one villain but so many controlling forces imposing their pressure to be a somebody according to mass media standards. In many ways, this is an untenable and virulent attack on the developing adolescent brain which works differently than adult brains because it is guided more by “random exploration” and by the emotional and reactive amygdala than the thoughtful, logical  frontal cortex. The average adults’ judgement rationale to make decisions is reached in the mid-twenties.  

So how do you tell a story about innocence, curiosity and growing up in a rampaging, engulfing media circus where teen age girls also admit that there is a love / hate relationship with social media but do not want to stop because their lives would be empty. How do you prepare or protect yourself from this tragic onslaught with far implications for our culture where coming-of-age women are finding maturity from superimposed hype, failed expectations and ego-driven  materialism?. What are the long-term consequences on family and society? Could it possibly get worse? 

The mission statement becomes If time can’t be replayed and only go forward, then the most precious commodity we have is Time and how to use it to its best value becomes essential. 

Therefore, it is necessary to turn this story into a heart-rending analogy by using the power of symbols which connect to several layers of meaning both visible and invisible. One symbolic protagonist is an immature adolescent brain facing a symbolic antagonist of epic proportion known as the social media clown face

More symbols are introduced to encompass the meaning of Time beyond the literal meaning of counting hours or days. Yesterday’s past experiences are put in a box, today’s present moments are alive in a circle and future visions are open ended lines. The moment of choice is seen as a spark on today’s circle as different from a decision or habit.  The whole set is linked together with a personal super power tool to help make good choices relevant to past, present and future.

This e-book is short enough to read in a few hours with simple drawings to highlight events including the new image of a Selfie Celtie. The story happens in 3 days from a drug testing to recollections on a beach  to an adolescent brain mixing it up with a social media nightmare, and a grandmother’s kindly introduction to  a personal super power tool to manage the precious Timeline. The short account has a pivot point where life can turn around with the right message.

So, how would you answer this important question: How can we help with adult overview to help teenage girls to find their true selves minus social media impositions?

Questions and comments are always welcome...together we can find solutions in this radically different digital culture. 
Annemarie Berukoff
833 471 4661

Grannie asks: "Let me ask you another important question, somewhat based on this messy life spectacle. You understand that the future only appears as a vision and today is the only time you have to react to anything. What if you had the power to connect to the future to help direct your present actions to fulfill that future?  I wonder what kind of choices you'd make ... would they be the same?

"There's a strange magic begins to happen when you know that TIME controls a CHOICE and a HABIT, but HABIT is NOT THE SAME THING AS A CHOICE.  A choice can happen in an instant. A habit will follow you as heavy and long as you want.

But this choice is instant, like a match flame. Ignite a wrong choice; it can lead to bad habits … even burn out your foundation who you want to be. Or you can make the right choice which becomes a stepping stone towards better habits and future. 

As brief as it might be, it is the matter of choice that makes it a superpower because it has the power to change the direction of your life.  Nothing is more powerful with more consequences; so it’s a good thing to make it as smart as possible. I think we agree on making a strong, smart choice."

Excerpts from Teen Girl Faces Time in the Sand: Timely Tale of Struggles, Regrets and Survival on Social Media.

NOTE: There are 10 lesson plans to use this content at an individual understanding.

PS:   I am always looking for a PODCAST interview to further explain this story.

  Who Will Answer the Mother of All Questions as Anti-Social Facebook Faces Reality Check? “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppress...