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The New Peer Pressure: Hashtags and Facebook Feeds

Brad Lamm, CIP

I can remember being in school and the hero worship my fellow classmates and I had for celebrities like Cheryl Ladd and Mr. T to name a few. Back then, we didn’t have direct access to our idols like people do today. If you wanted a hands-on experience, you had to write a letter to the fan club, which got you a signed copy of an 8 x 10 headshot.  My, my how times have changed. With the advent of social media, a 10-year-old can get her favorite celebrity tweets right to her iPhone.

For the most part, the hashtags and Facebook feeds are harmless.  But there are more than a few who post pics of drugs and alcohol usage like it’s the everyday norm of a glamorous lifestyle. In a recent article from The New York Post, a survey of Instagram accounts found that certain celebrities are more than willing to post pictures of themselves drinking or using drugs. What message does that send to fans, especially underage ones? How much do they influence the behavior of our youth today?

A case can be made that Snoop lighting up a blunt looks fun or The Rock posting about his favorite tequila sounds hilarious.  What fans don’t want their posts to look and sound just as cool? Parsing out the real story behind celebrity behavior is crucial and more often than not, it’s too nuanced for tweens and teens to comprehend. Since we can’t expect the stars to take responsibility for their impact on young people, it’s up to parents and mentors to make sure kids are getting the message behind the message. To that end, there’s one slogan from back in the day that still holds true today: Just Say No.

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