Emma, this is an amazing and eye-opening piece. I realize that so many of these features we take as the “standard” and forget about what they imply. I’ve also been thinking about the harm that social media brings, even to women in their late 20s. The anxiety that we feel probably doubles or triples in teens who do not have that sense of IDGAF that we’ve developed.

In addition to these points, I wonder if there is a limit to how many genuine connections we can develop until we feel FOMO or burn ourselves out from trying to please everyone and juggling too many conversations. Also, adding onto #3, what are some ways to prevent cyberbullying and trolling? Can this be done during onboarding? Can we do this more intentionally?

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Thank you! Exactly this! When you sit down and think about what these features are actually doing or implying it's pretty horrifying. Same goes for words used in tech (eg. Followers - "stalking" association). I think there's definitely a burnout of genuine connections – we see this IRL too, there's only a set number of people we can connect with before coming overwhelmed (check out Dunbar's Number if you haven't already!) This is something we should be playing closer attention to when engaging/building social landscapes.

Cyberbullying: setting strong community culture (and enforcing it when someone steps outside the rules of engagement) + building your community slowly as it makes people feel more pride/sense of ownership of the space and therefore they will want to look out for others while protecting the sanctity. Unfortunately, there are always going to be instances of harassament, it would be naive to assume otherwise. It's more how the platform/community aligns on dealing with it and having subtle reminders built throughout (eg. in Diem we say "write a (kind) message..." as the prompt in message boxes).

There's a lot of interesting research around avatars that we're playing close attention to as we build out the 3D elements of Diem – many reports of them reducing instances of harassment when utilized correctly – there's more association with your physical self as an avatar, you wouldn't tend to walk up to say something mean to someone vs. writing a comment provides more confidence and disassociation.

In conclusion, yes, we can 100% be more intentional about everything we build into social platforms.

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Nov 4, 2021Liked by Sarah Nöckel

@emma, do you have any examples of positive social media/communication for minors? Peer communication is a feature my company has been thinking of building, but we have not because of some of the things you mentioned in your article. It would be great to have examples of someone doing it right.

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Hey Jen! A great question – my opinion skews toward the more social platforms that focus on conversation vs. putting your body/face at the forefront, the more positive the space can be. Eg. places like Discord enable peer connection in a simple way. It definitely requires community moderation and empowering diverse members of the community to become moderators too. Lmk if that answers your question!

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Hi Emma,

I think it would be hard to say that ALL women are going to experience social media negatively. It is true that the legacy social media giants are using us to make their click revenue. So could it also be true that we hold a responsibility to ourselves and others not to be ‘sucked’ in? If we maintain a sense of awareness about how we use and more importantly why we are using these platforms, I think we as the consumer could feel more in control of our experience. Making my teenage daughter aware of what she is doing- scrolling endlessly through TikTok- is one way of letting her question herself about what she is doing. It’s very addictive entertainment but so was TV and Vogue magazine for me when I was her age. Let’s strengthen our children’s distancing skills- Awareness is key

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