Can we evolve online?
Ironically, I'm a little nervous about this one.
Quick question. How many of you were told to “clean” your Facebook page while applying for your first job? Millennials, you know what I’m talking about. I remember this being a big concern when I graduated college—the fear that drunk school pictures and/or an embarrassing assortment of Facebook statuses would come back to haunt me in the job hunt.
I first created a Facebook account when I was ~13, and I first signed up for Twitter when I was ~15. Of course, my online life started on Bebo at age ~11, though whatever I shared on that platform is presumably gone forever (hopefully). In short, my whole teenage and adult life has been documented online. Weird, right?
The content I’ve posted over the years has changed as drastically as I have. My social accounts follow my time exploring interests, following trends, learning about the world, graduating university, changing hair colours, entering the work force, meeting new friends, breaking up with boyfriends, moving countries, and starting to discover who I am. If you—like me—have also shared regularly to social accounts as you’ve grown up, then your transition from adolescence to adulthood is also entirely online. This digital footprint is not dissimilar to, say, family photo albums stored safely at your parent’s house. And just like I am haunted by my previous fashion choices in said family photo albums, I am definitely embarrassed by things I’ve shared online in the past. I mean, I wrote a relatively popular (and now deleted) blog ~9 years ago while at university. Is it cringey? I’m more than sure it is. But I’m also sure I’m not alone.
I know that everyone reading this can think of at least one mean comment, damning photo, awkward Tweet or former opinion that you once shared online but would make you cringe today. Wouldn’t it be weird if we weren’t slightly embarrassed at our well-documented past lives? That would be a wholly un-human experience. There is always room to grow and learn.
So why do we hold others to an unrealistic standard, especially in today’s online “cancel” climate? Could it be because of the manicured presence we’ve come to expect of others online? Or is it a subconscious projection of our own past (or present) shortcomings?
Take the recent “cancellation” of Tinx. A few weeks ago, a series of controversial (aka. fat-phobic and misogynistic) old tweets posted by the TikTok star resurfaced. One from 2012 said, “Kim kardashian is so fat I don’t know what to do with myself #oops.” Another from 2013 said, “Fat people at coachella LOL.” I know I’m about to walk a very fine line here, so bear with me. So many women have body insecurities, myself included. I’ve talked to my friends and many folks in Diem about this over the past few weeks, and every single person I’ve spoken with acknowledges their struggle with varying degrees of body dysmorphia and consequently internalized “fat-phobia.”
In a world where beauty is often a woman’s only legitimate power tool (IKYK, we’ve discussed this before), and if our entire beauty culture celebrates exclusively euro-centric, “skinny” beauty ideals, can you place singular blame on these individuals? Unlearning these insecurities, and the prejudices that come with them, requires deep self-awareness and self-reflection. Something not many people know how to do. It also requires us to put blinders on to ignore things (like the media) that still “criminalize” female celebrities for a singular dimple of cellulite. And while it’s definitely always horrible to project your own insecurity on others (especially publicly), and while I absolutely don’t mean to justify this behavior, I do wonder if we need to allow a little more grace with ourselves and others? We are, after all, operating in a deeply flawed societal structure that is barely evolving, if at all.
I wholeheartedly believe that those who intentionally share harmful or hateful content – especially if they do so while having a significant platform – should be forced to reflect inward more. On occasion, these folks also deserve to be “de-platformed” for breaking a legitimate code of conduct. At the same time, I believe we need to apply a critical lens to ourselves before jumping on a cancel culture bandwagon. We are all too quick to place judgement on something like a decade-old tweet, regardless of whether or not a person has demonstrated meaningful change as a human since they posted said tweet.
So, can we evolve online? Simply put, I hope so because we have to. We’ve simply been online for too long at this point. I hope we don’t live in a world defined by a singular, fleeting moment in time, as that would also imply no one is worthy of a second chance. So in the spirit of always learning, I’d love to hear from you—what do you think about all of this?
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What we’re reading...
👀 How women can reclaim “emotional” to their advantage. (The Power Outlet)
Who we’re Dieming with…
Conversations in the Diem universe feel like you’re dialing in to a call with your most knowledgeable friends. Here’s a selection of wisdom we’re listening to this week…
Making mentorship meaningful with Fran Hauser. Listen here.
Are all ideas good ideas? with Megan Raynor. Listen here.
Understanding & setting your boundaries with April Beyer. Listen here.
Defining self-care and resiliency with Nicole Deziel, NP. Listen here.
How to move countries with Neada Deters (and me!). Listen here.
I miss my pubes pt. 3 of the “Don’t Scroll Up” series. Listen here.
Normalizing Acne with Melanie Perez. Listen here.
How to ritualize your self-care & pleasure with June Johnson & Nicole Jennings. Listen here.
See you next time,