In the past 10 years, there has been an enormous surge in the number of social networking channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat and a corresponding increase in the number of users, especially adolescents. We’re learning that social media can be an environment full of judgment, comparison, gossip, and negativity. Bullying through social media is a very real problem, especially in our schools. REbeL is on a mission to change that.
More and more, we’re using social networking as the primary way in which we interact with others, and this is especially true for adolescents. At the same time, we live in a culture that is focused on appearance and leads us to feel insecure about our bodies, to feel like we can never measure up to the standards of beauty that are dominant in the media. The best and also the worst part about social media is that we are able to filter out the not-so-perfect parts of their lives and only highlight the parts of our lives that make it appear that we have it all together. Status updates and sharing photos is not just a way to keep people posted on what we’re up to. What we’re seeking is validation. We want people to like us. The number of “likes” a post receives and the number of followers a person accumulates in a lot of ways equates to the degree of acceptance they feel among their peers. And this is especially true for teens, to whom fitting in is everything. Just one negative comment, especially one about appearance, can be devastating and severely impact their self-esteem.
So where do we go from here? In REbeL, we see social media as a very powerful tool that we have right at our fingertips. Never before have we had the power to connect to and influence so many people at one time through a single social media post. And while social media can be a source of negativity, in REbeL one of our goals is to help people, teens especially, learn to think critically about media messages they see and to understand the potential in all of us to harness the power of social media to promote positive body image, to improve self-esteem and self-confidence, and to redefine beauty. We encourage teens to post natural, unfiltered selfies; to post pictures of themselves and others embracing their bodies and who they are; to be choosy about what they “like” and who they “follow”; and to discourage body-bashing on social media. Our goal is to flood social media with positivity rather than shame and negativity. Social media is here to stay; that we cannot change. But we can change the way we use it. If enough people join us as we #postpositive, we can REbeLutionize the world of social media!