How Beauty and Mob Mentality Rule Teen Girls on YouTube Videos
I don’t know where we’re going, but from the look of this crowd, it’s got to be good.
“Image rules. Loudness rules. And we take all this loudness into our being and feed our image with it.” Desiree Driesenaar
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 autocratic control versus independent choices as individuals? This is more about tribal acceptance within a “social-validation feedback loop” to avoid the pain of rejection and be socially acceptable. But based on accessories?
Thank God, in my time, a facecloth, toothbrush and comb were all that were needed to go out on a date.
Today, 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. Where is the fresh bloom of youth, the wide-eyed innocence, the genuine smile?
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.
Is it for their own self-satisfaction or selfie satiety?
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, feuds and meltdowns create a virtual Dramageddon.
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.”
The problems with group think
This kind of preying on the complacent tribal brain happens every day on social media where people are influenced by peers 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 to what others may think, where value exists because others say so … a sad state of affairs on the world view.
“Not getting any likes on our post can feel as painful to our brain as being cast out from a tribe that ensures our survival.” Dr. Adam Bell
However, surviving in any cult atmosphere means group adherence to avoid penalties or ostracism, the worst stigma for a teen girl. Social media teaches standard beautification rules to get more likes so that they can belong with high perceived value to ensure their egos’ survival. A lack of likes is profoundly distressing and depressing. What an unnatural way to grow up!
What about the King of YouTube who once made $400 a day?
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, a veritable Pied Piper on social media. For my sanity, I hoped it wasn’t some middle-age guy with clever, on-the-edge marketing skills.
More red flags started to wave frantically to read about the kind of influence that YouTuber Shane Dawson provided to his 23 million subscribers and 6.5 billion views (Wikipedia). Born in 1988, he became one of the first and most famous YouTuber internet personalities. He first gained notice 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.
Since 2008, his YouTube channel had generated around 100,000 views per day with an estimated revenue of around $400 per day ($150,000 a year).Feb 27, 2020.
Then, it all came crashing down in July, 2020, when YouTube demonetized his channel after he apologized for doing blackface, using racial slurs and sexualizing animals and children with a new video. He lost over a million subscribers in two weeks.
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, understanding attitudes and stereotypes without aggression, prejudice and discrimination. How do these social rules fit into YouTube’s business?
One of the most important 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 social disadvantages, but I hope parents and adults can.
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