Sunday, 16 February 2020

A Confluence, Assumptions, Crossroads and One Uncommon Solution for Teen Girls on Social Media

A Confluence, Assumptions, Crossroad, and One 

Solution for Teen Girls on Social Media

 "But here is the strangest paradox of Time that it can only be managed in a very small-time frame called TODAY. And TODAY can sometimes be sparked by a tinier matter of CHOICE." Teen Girl Faces Time in the Sand

In Geology, a younger rock formation isolated among older rocks is called an outlier. So, if an older person stands up among younger people to share wise experience is she also an outlier because she cares?   

Can we set the table with some common assumptions?
  • The internet revolution is here to stay and grow.
  • Social media will be the communication channel for better or for worse.
  • Almost all levels of mainstream culture are digitally disrupted with necessary adaptive changes 
  • Teen culture is the more vulnerable because of adolescent brains still in formation to build a rationale, deductive frontal cortex.

Here’s my Big Picture view based on observations and continuous research.

Teenagers, especially teen girls, are at a crossroad with 4 different settings, story lines or solutions…

One: Everything is fine…they will grow out of teenage angst on social media…maturity is a step away at 20 years as independent, competent adults.

Two: There are serious problems with internet exploitation of teen girls via various platforms, body images, psychologists’ reports re depression, etc.

Three: Much advice about tactical control tips for parents, self-esteem worksheets, meditation practice, new curriculum objectives re sexting, etc.

Four: Change internal MINDSET that my OFFLINE TIME in my space is more important than ONLINE TIME in others' virtual reality. 
New assumption: What is the best way to overcoming conditioned reflexes and relearning new mindsets?

Best way to break a habit is to find reasons to reset new behaviors…
Best way to undo conditioning is to recondition with a new mindset…

New theory: show teenagers there is a reality far more important and more valuable than social media gossip, games, being influenced, liking and looking for approval from strangers with physical codes.

HOW? Consider the one commodity that all teen girls have in common ... namely TIME and how they spend it.

Therefore,  how can time be understood better, described and managed,  using symbols when necessary?

New idea: Read a story based on the theme of time within a broad overview. A teen girl narrates her story of making some bad choices about Selfies and drugs pointing to a symbol of the Social Media Circus impacting an adolescent brain in a dream. She keeps asking, “Is it my fault?” Her grannie helps to explain the transition of time as experiences with symbols in the sand and the power of choice made in reference to a timeline with 3 essential questions. Redemption follows with new mindset to believe in Self not Selfie.

Note the fragility of life and destiny with no choice is drawn from a damselfly.

Then practice a few lesson plans to help reinforce some basic timely ideas within context. 

EXAMPLES: get to know areas of the brain, draw powerful neuron connections, word webs beyond self, predict rites of passage, new calendar of time based on experiences, practice making smart choices, note difference between choice and habit, connect morals to self-esteem with actions, compare time charts (offline vs online) and celebrate MY TIME like a Mandela of vision ... no cellphones allowed. There is life beyond the small screen face.

The story takes two hours to read. The exercises may take longer. But, at least, perhaps, a SEED may be planted that holding a timeline in your hand is your responsibility.  Perhaps, a couple pages in the minds of teen girls may turn to being a special Self not a media Selfie.

Could this be a better antidote than taking the cellphone away or writing a daily journal when their future adulthood may be on the line? Is this a better way to relate to morality in our culture when some people think amorality is the new normal?

As a citizen of the world and a teacher who deeply respects education and always wants to teach the Big Picture, the total unit, I worry about other long-term options. The truth is we are in the middle of an unprecedented confluence, “a tide in the affairs of teenagers” where the “current we take” will either “serve or lose our ventures.” …adapted William Shakespeare. I hope we are not too late in turning the tide.

I sometimes wonder if our society may be losing a generation of young women to the siren calls of a Social Media Clown Face. Teen girls probably cannot write a story like this when their train is just leaving the station on routes of their choosing where one wrong mistake can derail a lifetime.

Finally, mass media has created this situation and mass media can help to reduce some of the undesirable effects.  Imagine how a good film producer can produce a wonderful short movie with TIME as a radial center to respect the rites of passage for young women.  

Questions and comments are always important. Podcast shows are important to debate. What are other options? Has our culture crossed the line or not? Has it done enough to protect our amazing teen girls?  

833 471 4661 (leave message and best time)

 Excerpt:  "It is starting to make sense. My Experience of Life will not be planted by a Celtie Selfie in a social media circus. The circus is in town, but I don't have to go to every show."

Thursday, 13 February 2020

How Beauty and Mob Mentality for Teen Girls on Social Media Are Found on YouTube Videos

How Beauty and Mob Mentality for Teen Girls on 

Social Media Are Found on YouTube Videos

I don’t know where we’re going, but from the look of this crowd, it’s got to be good.

My concern for teen girls and advocacy against social media angst and exploitation has focused on psychologists’ reports in general terms; the more recent, the better. However, when you start digging deeper into this landscape, you discover an atmosphere of reality shows filled with competitiveness, big personalities, and passionate followers where the narrative and attention is based on the melodramatic or highly emotional to get more clicks, views, brand deals and profits. 

The use of the term "mob mentality" raised immediate red flags. Why are young people participating to what end even as a serious mindset into a democratic world view versus autocratic control?

The beauty community thrives on YouTube as a sisterhood where socially connected brands matter as much as beauty products where teen girls can spend about $400 per year, with skin care being the most popular...imagine the hype to care for young, fresh skin.

YouTube videos provide a sweet spot to learn about makeup applications in real time. Teen girls become fiercely loyal to their favorite top influencers and their preferred brands as they talk to them face to face on the camera, up close and personal, telling them how to be beautiful with cosmetics.

Such direct communication is now called having “parasocial relationships.”

"This tendency to become emotionally attached to influencers occurs from frequent viewing and the brain's natural instincts to interpret virtual as social, such as making eye contact, smiling, and personal disclosure — as it would in person. This is not a pathology, but a normal response."  Pamela Rutledge, media psychologist.

YouTubers need to be aggressively competitive to be profitable and creditable. One wrong word or slur from any other person can result in a “cancel culture” for the group where the media guru can lose hundreds of thousands of subscribers in one week. More social media history becomes exposed and a Dramageddon can result.  

However, any opposition is met with fierce allegiance by the group members; thereby, the possibility of mob mentality runs a muck.  It can be compared to herd behavior if there is a public attack - "it's like when drone bees attack to protect the queen.”

Why is this such a dangerous reaction? These behaviors where people can be influenced by peers are based largely on emotion without any rational logic. In one sense, it can be called gang mentality on a lesser scale.  When problems arise, what matters most is social inclusion, right or wrong, with lack of trust in oneself or indifference … a sad state of affairs on the world view.

One of the most important courses I taught to middle school students was how to manage a conflict situation fairly. Most were shocked to think that both sides could own right reasons. Their lesson was to list different viewpoints each with negative and positive consequences. At the end of discussions, decisions were made with compromise to be as positive and helpful to both sides.   

“Whether the question is what to do with an empty popcorn box in a movie theater, how fast to drive on a certain stretch of highway, or how to eat the chicken at a dinner party, the actions of those around us will be important in defining the answer.” Robert Cialdini:  The Psychology of Persuasion.

Some of the top beauty and fashion influencers can make hundreds of millions of dollars a year. So, I decided to check out what kind of person can become a top respectful representative on social media. 

More red flags started to wave frantically to read about the kind of influence that YouTuber Shane Dawson provides to his 23 million subscribers  and 6.5 billion views. (Wikipedia). Born in 1988, Shane Dawson has become one of the most famous YouTuber internet personalities. He first started in 2008 by making sketch comedy videos that made fun of popular culture. By 2015, he began his most viewed video conspiracy shows  discussing a variety of conspiracy theories and criticized for misinformation like the flat Earth, moon landing hoax, and 9/11 hoax. In 2018 he released two New York Times best-selling books, I Hate Myselfie and It Gets Worse.  

Personally, my distress is palpable to imagine how this kind of questionable social media power can affect the important social psychology of groups, especially teenagers. Humans, at best, as social animals need to apply common principles with their actions and feelings; such as, matters of self-concept, interpersonal skills, attitudes, stereotypes, without aggression, prejudice and discrimination.

We already know that one of the factors in this transition from teenager to adult involves intense peer pressure to conform to group standards and beliefs; or be ostracized and bullied.  All of a sudden, vitamins called Sugar Bear Hair are worth fighting for on a massive scale as dictated by a fashionable guru because he says so and everybody else can be cancelled.

Am I worrying too much this group think has now become normal behavior in our larger culture? Not to question, not to analyze or educate, not to trust democratic debate, not to challenge hype or fake news, but to believe in mob mentality, in minor tweets versus dialogue, without criteria and discipline.

Questions, comments and debate are very welcome. I don't think teenagers can relate to such disadvantages, but I hope parents and adults can.  
Note: I welcome the opportunity for podcast interviews. See previous blogs.

833 471 4661 (please note best time to talk)

Check out earlier blog: Essential Metaphor of Culture as a Tree for Teenagers 

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

New World of YouTube Fan Fiction - Questions and Choices for Teenagers and Parents

New World of YouTube Fan Fiction - Questions and Choices 

for Teenagers and Parents

"The culture of fandoms is relatively new. Not being a fan of someone per se, but today it's easier to feel connected to a celebrity or creator. Back then they were just celebrities so they may not understand how we feel as though we know them." Helena…teen creative writer on Wattpad…connected at 12 years
Have you heard of Wattpad on YouTube, a special community where 13 year old teens can set up an account, write and read stories by some of their favorite stars? Does it matter if internet safety experts have concerns about X-rated, dark, violent, sexual or offensive content with recommendations “you’ll also like this.” 

Psychologists explain teens can be fixated with popular celebrities and favorite online stars; made to feel special by belonging and consuming anything and everything. This new special YouTuber hero (heroine) talks directly to the camera, up close and personal, with effective eye-contact to give the feeling of authentic friendship.

Have you heard of this new term called  a parasocial relationship between fans and YouTubers, where they feel a particularly strong sense of allegiance through their vlogs?

"In a parasocial relationship, the audience comes to feel that the personality is a friend and they experience the person as if they were in a reciprocal relationship, rather than a one-sided one … this experience is amplified in social media where influencers respond to comments and fans, increasing the illusion of friendship."  Pamela Rutledge (media psychologist)

So what happens if Fan Fiction can have adult themes or turn dark or inappropriate with nude references to  the “biggest horny boy ever met,”  or violence, homophobia and even suicide?  

Is the adolescent brain assaulted again by content it is not emotionally mature enough to understand?  Or worse yet, grow neuronal pathways that this is normal behavior or culturally appropriate.

Smut warnings exist; screenshots are shared to Instagram for more viewers. There are no age restrictions on the majority of fan fiction sites. Even Wattpad notes that “problems can also arise if the fantastic online world starts to get in the way of their real offline life.”

One teen writer thinks fan fiction is something older people just don't understand like teenagers do or value “fandom.” She admits there is certainly mature adult themes that can get pretty dark sometimes; but she reads the descriptions first and knows what she is getting into. She is glad to be part of it.  Good for her … easier said than done.

My teacher's heart breaks. I loved to teach creative writing to my students. There were formal rules to write many different kinds of paragraphs from descriptive to expository with many outlines to structure from least to most important with a comprehensive conclusion. Novel studies further outlined the importance of settings and plot for a suspenseful mood to paint the main character and add conflict to the antagonist. 

But, today, by reading this one article, I had to add some new dictionary vocabulary to this social media revolution:

Wattpad, internet safety expert, media psychologist, parasocial relationship, online Fan Fiction, fandom, YouTubers, adultification. (I knew what a vlog is.)

Once again, what I call the Social Media Medusa Manipulator extends her domain into creative writing for teens with or without positive intentions … right or wrong answers ... leaving the choice to a teenager to make a logical choice during an emotional transition of time.

Once again, do parents have to worry … or not? Where do children go if something upsets them beyond their years? Definitely, the responsibility lies  with the parents to control these safety settings, sometimes harder to do with moving targets and fly-by-night influencers.

"There's nothing more important than having an open dialogue with your child about what and who they are engaging with online. Having regular, honest, and open conversations with your child is the best way to stay in tune."
Carolyn Bunting, the CEO of Internet Matters, an organization dedicated to keeping children safe online.

This is the reality of our Internet Revolution where the average child owns their first smartphone at 10.3 years and can open  accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Kik and Snapchat.

Are parents somewhat complicit in allowing their kids exposure to content that generation ago would be off limits?  

Is the stage set for early adultification making the right time for marketers to take advantage of adolescent social rites of passage? 

So many questions. What do you think? What are the problems? What are the solutions? I believe more than tactics are required to stop this social media  infiltration with a different mindset for teenagers.

833 471 4661 (please leave a message for the best time to talk)

PS: I welcome podcast interviews. See previous blogs.

Excerpt: Teen Girl Faces Time in the Sand - a timely tale of social media struggles, regrets and survival with superpower tool.

"Imagine, you are just 14 years old, yet your brain is wired for positive feedback which gets a dopamine spike with every click, every buzz, to keep the story fresh and wanting more.  How could it be any other way? Your habit of posing and posting becomes like an itch, somebody else's itch, but you got to keep scratching it, painful as it may be at times, because sometimes you get the word LIKE.
And here's the true tragedy. Many young people who inhabit their smart phones will refuse to face any other truth beyond their existence on their smart phones because it becomes the core of their experience. Think about that. Mass media will never apologize for what it is doing because it makes money. Cosmetics and fashion are expensive. Sex sells whether you are 14 or 40. Did you know plastic surgeries have increased by nearly 100% in the last few years?"

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Up a Pole or Draw a Line in the Sand - Can Teenage Girls Make a Choice in a Changing Culture, or Not.

Up a Pole or Draw a Line in the Sand ... Can Teenage Girls Make a Choice in a Changing Culture ... or Not  

Madonna says when she was criticized by a famous feminist as someone who objectifies women. She responded by saying:
‘If you are a feminist, you don’t have sexuality, you deny it. I am a different kind of feminist; I am a bad feminist.’ Madonna.

My heart and mind are troubled. I recently had a comment from a parent about my ebook (Teen Girl Faces Time in the Sand.) She thought the story was too much of a negative image about how social media affects teen girls’ behavior. She said, “Social media is like going to the mall to hang out…they will shake it off as they grow older.”

I wish I could so believe that the adolescent brain will survive neuronal passages based on messages of materialism, hyper sexuality, ego worship, and adult role-play as they develop more logical, deductive thinking skills.
The learning process cannot be relegated to the mall or cellphones as singular acts soon enough forgotten. Our brain creates a mental map of its environment with triggers for learning from sensory inputs to cognitive associations. It builds networks of perceptions, facts and combinations, encodes memories and habits, where breaking fixed assumptions and routines is hard to reset.

Neuroscientists and psychologists are able to explain how your brain is physically wired from your actions and emotions. These are neuronal connections based on what you do repeatedly in your life; both good and bad, which  are strengthened with repetition. Think of how many hours teen girls spend on social media or their choice of Selfies to get the most responses.

Therefore, if you want to change how you think or act, you need clear steps to break out of the habit, to experience and stimulate different neuronal pathways. So, what are the different steps that teen girls would be willing to take to adapt to other activities especially in this modern celebrity infused environment?

We all understand the brain has an amazing adaptive quality known as neuroplasticity. Teenagers will undoubtedly change as they mature, intact with long term memories and new explorations. My biggest fear and question is how the current environment will help or hinder them.

On one hand, at least 100 million people witnessed the Superbowl Pepsi Half-time Show with very talented singers and dancers, some main lusty performers who were 40 years old and older.  There was one male singer who appeared dressed from neck to toes in a silver trench coat, baggy pants with even a helmet to cover his head. The women had free flowing hair and dressed in skimpy outfits flouncing a tableau of every kind of sexually suggestive movement imaginable.  One actually climbed a pole and performed a style of stripper pole dance with the briefest thong visible in a costume.

So, here is the question: Is this sexualized image of gyrating and twerking women a matter for only one night’s entertainment? Or is this an acceptable common social landscape and modeling for our young teen girls?  Or the young teen boys who view such female extravaganza as desirable, worthy to emulate? Does any kind of push-back exist, or does it even matter? Have we crossed the line to no return to civility?

Has our cultural narrative changed so gradually that simple sexual objectification of women is normalized with accolades for this kind of performance?  What does that communicate about thoughts, feelings, relationships  or how love is manifested? Overt sexual displays by beautiful women have nothing to do with getting to know another person over time with all their feelings and thoughts.

How deep is our culture embedded in disrespect when society can’t seem to stand up for itself? What kind of reality matters when facts can be twisted to suit the influencers, when lies matter? The silent majority have experience, insight and wisdom but may be intimidated or anxious not to be overwhelmed by mass media.

 When did our normal social rites of passage begin to disintegrate from tolerance, decency, trust, and equality to degrees of violence, intimidation or hierarchies…to belong or not to belong with or without discrimination? Is there a visible enemy or a monster to fight against with what tools?

The latest teen girl pop sensation is described as having a “gothic-horror aesthetic” dressed in a canvas sack whose music represents the Gen-Z generation without gender but defined image her music crying for privacy with  anxiety and apathy. Recently, a Gen-Zer, raised on social media, states on a TV interview she sees nothing wrong with spending money on plastic surgery "if it makes you  look and feel good."

And new research continues to stream in with studies that now are using MIR technology to measure responses  and long-term studies are evaluating what happens after a number of years of exposure in this grand social experment.

To the mother who feels her teen daughter will just “shake it off,” I’m not sure it will be that easy in a changing culture where celebrations of female sexuality can be viewed as relative to bar scenes or porn videos where lonely men and prepubescent males go to watch strippers to satisfy their fantasies and continue the thread of misogyny. Girls can learn to work a pole. 

 I believe it is time to draw a line in the sand. On one side are our basic norms to stay healthy and moral, democratic with trust and consensus,  smart with introspection versus distraction, where teen girls have time to create their independent roles into womanhood and motherhood without imposition.  On the other side, there will continue to be the influencers with bully pulpits, the wolves in sheep clothing, the celebrities hanging from stripper poles.   

 Questions and comments are always important. What is your opinion? Has our cultural norms crossed the moral line in the sand? Is Social Media benign or malignant? What tools can young people use to counter this invader and raise their voices for freedom?

833 471 4661 (please leave a message and best time to chat)

EXCERPT: Teen Girl Faces Time in the Sand ... a Timely Tale of Social Media Struggles, Regrets and Survival with Superpower Tool: (plus Kindle)

You know how all the great myths about superheroes are about their journeys to overcome problems and teach us morals between right and wrong. 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.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Two Big Picture Questions and Teacher’s Answers that Matter for Parents and Teen Girls on Social Media

Two Big Picture Questions and Teacher’s Answers for Parents that Matter for Teen Girls on Social Media

"No teen girl should be like an insect nymph getting sustenance from the environment dominated by a Giant Clown Face. What kind of organism would destroy its youth society through mind control before reaching the adult stage? What kind of adulthood would result?"

On a recent podcast show for parents I was asked a pointed question upfront:

What is the one thing about you that would make parents want to listen to you?  

The answer was simple, drawn from a long background of pride and achievement.  I am a  teacher, now retired, with 24 years of teaching experience. I am a disciplined teacher with total faith in the teaching principles such as asking questions, analyzing content, making a decision with multiple viewpoints. 

Good teaching results in good learning such as comprehension, association, critical and creative thinking. My main job as an educator was to show the Big Picture of any unit study … how all the parts fit together to make any system function as a whole.

However, we are now faced with a new unprecedented unit of study…it’s new, only 20 years old, it’s a technological revolution affecting humanity. Social media has absorbed our communication systems for better or for worse. 

As adults, with wisdom, we can try to cope and handle the changes. But what about teenagers, especially teen girls, how do they find their way without rules, discipline or foresight? How do their adolescent brains know what is right or wrong, dangerous or doable without consequences? What viewpoint do they have to see the Big Picture of how social media has impacted their normal social rites of passage and potential?

And so, I wrote this short e-book with a Big Picture. A teen girl narrates her story of making some bad choices about Selfies and drugs pointing to a symbol of the Social Media Circus impacting an adolescent brain in a dream. She keeps asking, “Is it my fault?”  Her grannie helps to explain the transition of time as experiences with symbols in the sand and the power of choice made in reference to a timeline with 3 essential questions. 

My deep fear is that young teen girls can find too much sustenance on Social Media which can metamorphose into adult lifestyles that defy cultural norms.

The second important question was: what is the most important message you can give to parents? Such an important answer deserved two parts:

First, there is an image in the story that shocked me even to think about it where symbols can mean so much more than words. One of the main characters is a symbol of the Social Media Clown Face … a huge, amorphous, hatch-tagged, cell-phone slinging organism that appears again and again. Another real symbol is the damselfly that represents the fragility of life and self-survival skills of even the smallest being.

In the last chapter, the two symbols meet. The teen girl relates to the damselfly nymphs that survive in their underwater environment with their special appendages for many years only to emerge as adults, to mate, lay eggs and die within weeks. The shocking image shows a nymph with a teenager’s profile finding nourishment and sustenance from this huge Social Media Clown face. The words ring loud and clear:

   Yes, perhaps, like a nymph, I, too, have struggled with my adolescent brain. However, my food supply was scavenged from a giant clown face imposing sexualized Selfies, trying to molt me into grand media impositions, a classification where I never belonged. It never gave me the strength or confidence as a child to metamorphose into a strong capable adult.

As a society, we need to take a closer look at this Big Picture and what matters to our youth as they transition into adulthood to build a sustainable culture.   

Second, parents always ask for advice about better ways to communicate with teenagers in competition with social media. There is much advice to be found on the internet. My best message, however, is to spend as much time as possible with your teenager doing anything that doesn’t involve a cell phone in your hand … making dinner, playing a game, helping a community project, building a  sandcastle.  Since learning is based so much on experience and repetition to form new pathways in the brain, it  is so important to replace ONLINE time with OFFLINE time together. It might even be fun enough to do again and again.  

The heavy-duty social media wavelength is here to stay in sickness and in health. What we all need is the key to better choices to value our personal timeline as our most valuable commodity. This is the theme of the story called Teen Girl Faces Time in the Sand.

Ask yourself the same question: what is the one thing that would make people want to listen to you?

Questions and comments are always important. For more podcast questions check this blog. What other questions would you ask this teacher? Challenge her experience because she is the first to admit she has never posted a Selfie! 

833 471 4661 

Excerpt: "I idly trace a square shape in the slightly damp sand.  Yes, I can call this yesterday … can't relive it but learn from it.  Fill it up so many bad choices, so many regrets without the context of present and future. I was so young to be powered by a rash and brash developing brain. I am now so much better informed about new vocabulary and protection in our changing society.

Then, something different, I trace a long deep line in the sand and mark off a short section near the beginning. This is my total lifeline and this very short segment shows my teenage years. Six short years can make a profound difference on a long lifeline, that's for sure.

Now I draw a heavier more rippled line above my lifeline. This, I think, is the internet's social media timeline.  It is powerful and here to stay forever; but I will not allow its size and influence to affect this small section of my life called teen years. I will not fall into a hole created by the Media monster."


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