Social Media Helps Normalize Problematic Attitudes

Social Media has helped foster a compare-culture that puts young people at risk of performing for the wrong reasons and companies like “6ixbuzztv” are taking advantage of it.

Last Thursday, ‘6ixbuzztv,’ the popular social media brand that has emerged as a go-to source for local cultural content, posted an Instagram video titled, “Buzztime Episode 5 - Western Hoco Edition.” The video, which has 439,000 views and counting, shows Western University students answering questions about their sex lives including male students talking about how many women they’ve slept with during homecoming weekend and females being asked to kiss each other on camera. 

What is disturbing, aside from the overt misogyny baked into the questions and answers, is that social media is being manipulated for videos like these to be created and spread. Social media provides a platform for brands like ‘6ixbuzztv’ to profit from a young person’s desire and tendency to “perform” in front of a camera. It also helps create a compare-culture where men and women are pressured into competing for validation among their peers. In a world where almost everything we do is on display, people often act through the lens of, “how will my peers react to this?” rather than asking themselves, “is this what I want to do?”

The sexism and misogyny on display in this video are not new issues; in fact, Western already made headlines for the homemade misogynistic signs posted throughout Broughdale Avenue during homecoming. But why do the attitudes of certain Canadian University students seem to be getting worse when society as a whole is becoming more ‘woke’ and well-educated, especially when they are supposed to be the most progressive people? I blame social media. 

When you think about the way content is curated for social media — the way people only post their best-looking pictures, take videos of nights out but not nights in, etc. — it’s obvious why social media is a big contributor to the mental health crisis young people are experiencing. It can feel like there is no escaping the overflow of content coming from these platforms, and that content generally showcases only the best aspects of peoples’ lives. In other words, social media blocks out a lot of the bad in favour of the good and helps create a world in which young people strive to be perfect because, according to social media, their friends already are. It can be hard to differentiate the appearance of peoples’ lives on social media from the reality of their day-to-day experiences, despite them usually being two very different things. 

As a recent graduate of Western University, I find the attitudes expressed in the aforementioned video disturbing, but not necessarily shocking. I certainly don’t find them to be genuine. 

The thing is, young people are comparing themselves to one another more than ever because of social media. And because of the compare-culture social media has fostered, people will do or say anything to help them gain some ‘clout’ or followers in the online world. The goal is to stand out, be different, cool. Just not too different, because that’s weird. 

When we criticize social media, though, we must also be wary of the companies that are benefitting from these platforms. After all, social media isn’t inherently good or bad; it’s what we do on Instagram or Twitter that reflects the nature of our humanity. 

‘6ixbuzztv,’ the social media brand that is becoming increasingly influential among young people in the GTA (with over 1.2 million followers on Instagram), is at fault for creating content that normalizes problematic attitudes. This video, in particular, shows how a media outlet can showcase only the most outrageous attitudes in order to get clicks and go viral. Heck, it begins with a guy claiming he’ll “kill himself” if he doesn’t sleep with at least three women that weekend. By highlighting these views instead of more progressive ones on a platform that young people admire and consume as an integral part of their culture, ‘6ixbuzztv’ is helping preserve sexism and misogyny in a society that is trying to move forward. 

Kawhi Leonard’s Unforgettable Moment in Toronto