The trifling Blac Chyna and Rob Kardashian controversy is the latest example of celebrity cyberbullying–a trend that has garnered world wide attention than disapproval or disdain.
Last week, Kardashian posted graphic photos of Chyna on Instagram and Twitter, while also hurling insults about her greed, body-enhancing surgeries, and promiscuity. It was a shameful and ingenious action that should be condemned by the public.
Regardless of how one views the Kardashian-Chyna incident, extensive media coverage and social media dialogue has made the issue difficult to avoid. But have we considered the dire effects controversial celebrities have on youth? Does negative media coverage of cultural leaders set a bad example for adolescents?
Several psychologists told the Associated Press earlier this week that tolerating negative celebrity behaviors may produce disastrous results among children. Catherine Steiner-Adair said failing to reject hateful and cruel celebrity online activity may create a bystander culture that permits the abuse of others.
“When we tolerate leaders — in the popular media like a Kardashian, or a president — behaving in this way, we are creating a very dangerous petri dish for massive cultural change.”
Unfortunately, Kardashian’s actions send a deplorable message to young adolescents: It is acceptable to treat women with blatant disrespect on social media to the point of deceit and humiliation. It’s a brash communique that has undertones of misogyny. It must not be taken lightly.
The youth that consume this culture are enamored by the riches and commercial success of their idols. It makes sense for them to aspire for triumph, especially if it guarantees security and popularity. Yet, how do we encourage them to see beyond the highly materialistic culture that many Americans are absorbed by?
Developing an educational program that promotes integrity and ethics in internet communication may be a good start. With the help of stakeholders, communications experts, and parents, adolescents could move past egregious mistakes to encourage restorative solutions. Such an experience can help promote critical thinking among youth.
Incidents similar to Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna’s dilemma, while entertaining and comedic to some, present real challenges to concerned parents and educators. It’s incumbent on us to discourage community youth from engaging in reckless and senseless social media behavior.