(illustration credit: Anthony Stone)
Western Australian academic Crystal Abidin recently completed an ethnographic study of social media ‘influencers’. Her research tells us that the Essena O’Neill story is about A LOT more than the dangers of social media.
This blog post (and others on Crystal’s blog) offers an overview on mainstream media coverage of O’Neill’s story, and suggests some ways to think about and discuss it, without blaming, or shaming young people’s social media practices. As Abidin provocatively puts it:
Dwelling on the micro-public actions of one 18-year-old (without taking into account nuances like her demographic, context, backstory, motivations, etc) and casting a blanket statement that WE NEED TO SAVE YOUNG PEOPLE or that YOUNG PEOPLE ARE NARCISSISTIC is
1) shallow albeit clickbaity,
2) prescriptive and not descriptive, and
3) just not productive. What is the value of another article describing how O’Neill cried through her video?
AFSEH members Kath Albury and Paul Byron have been conducting research into the ways that Australian sexuality educators and health promotion professionals engage with young people’s digital and mobile media practices. They will be launching their initial report on this project at the AFSEH National Conference at the University of Western Sydney in late November. You can check out a draft program here, and register for the conference here.