By Conor Brummell
The toxicity of social media and the pressure of young people being in the limelight has recently become prominent once again. A series of famous faces, such as Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and Jesy Nelson from Little Mix, have spoken out about the difficulties they’ve had throughout the years due to the ups and downs that come with stardom. Being young and growing up famous is extremely difficult; every little action and flaw is scrutinized by the millions of people who follow their every move. Young people all over the world idolise their every move and this always means they have to be perfect and this can have detrimental effects on their physical and mental health.
Justin Bieber was the first person to talk about the struggles he’s had whilst growing up. After being discovered at 16, he catapulted to fame and he said, by the time he was 18, he had more money than sense. He made mistakes that triggered abuse online since he was not supposed to be rebellious whilst growing, but when he did rebel, he wasn’t afforded the same liberties as someone who wasn’t famous. He said he could see how the highs and lows of performing turned people to drugs, as your mental state can’t deal with the fluctuation of happiness and sadness and you search for that high in other places. He said that having to stay on the straight and narrow, when he had too much temptation, was difficult, and, to make it worse, online hate drove him to depths of despair. I couldn’t imagine when I was 16 having to monitor my actions, in fear of receiving abuse online, and for it to happen to someone so publicly, even worse.
Miley Cyrus also spoke out regarding haters online, after she and husband Liam Hemsworth broke up. With allegations that she cheated circling online, she felt she had to defend herself publicly. Admitting she’s made mistakes in her life, from getting fired from Hotel Transylvania due to taking a picture with a penis cake when she was 17, to experimenting with drugs and being overly sexual in the media, she said there was no way she had cheated on Liam and for haters to back off. When she discarded the golden Hannah Montana image, people jumped on the “Wrecking Ball” phase of her life, disgracing her for the fact she was rebelling. That’s one of the problems of being in the media; people believe they own aspects of you because of the entertainment you gave them when you were younger. Look at the likes of Macauley Culkin and Lindsey Lohan – veterans of receiving hate online and the struggle they had after they dropped their nice kid images. Both turned to drugs and essentially ruined their careers as a result of online abuse and not being able to transition into adulthood without judgement and strife.
Jesy Nelson also made a documentary this year about her struggles with abuse in the media, entitled Odd One Out. In it, she details the abuse she received from her time on the X-Factor, and the fact that people labelled her the ‘fat one’ in Little Mix. She also became explicit about the fact that, as part of their contracts, she had to have social media and be active on it. This left her vulnerable to online hate from trolls, which damaged her self-image and confidence. It took her a long time to come to terms with it, and the strength she shows in the documentary proves she’s a brilliant role model to young girls all over the world. Look at the cast of Geordie Shore, and the plastic surgery they’ve had done, due to people hating on them throughout the years. Charlotte Crosby, Marnie Simpson and Chloe Ferry are almost unrecognisable shells of themselves from when they started on the show.
Online hate has done too much damage to famous people and it is time to rethink our social media usage. The fact that the stars above have started this discussion recently gives us the leverage to change our attitudes. It’s easy to say something in the moment, or anonymously, but that something, no matter how frivolous, could have a lasting effect on someone. As James Cordon posted online in a video about fat shaming, we need to begin to think about what we’re saying as we never know the reasons behind somebody else’s appearances or actions.