Teens Are Self-Diagnosing via TikTok [Content Made Simple]
Issue #300! Look at that, 300 weeks of this newsletter. How fun.
TOP OF THE WEEK
Teens turning to TikTok for mental health advice are self-diagnosing
It's a relatable feeling. You're feeling unwell, have multiple symptoms, and you decide to Google what might ail you. Sometimes doom takes hold and you self-diagnose with the worst-case scenario. But it's not just physical ailments. CBS News found that as the mental health crisis among American teens deepens, they seek out alternative forms of support and information. Increasingly young people turn to social media platforms like TikTok and diagnose themselves with serious mental health problems.
This continues to be one of the more disturbing fruits of TikTok in my view of all that orbits around that app. As we have explored often in this newsletter, social media and mental health have a rough relationship, but it becomes even more concerning to me when the source of the problem becomes the perceived source of the “solution” or “diagnosis” for teens.
THE TRIVIA QUESTION
What was the first animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars?
Answer at the bottom.
HITTING THE LINKS
Link #1: The TikTok 'bold glamour' filter is going viral for its wildly unrealistic beauty standard
I’ve seen this filter going viral on TikTok, for sure. Good write-up on it.
The "bold glamour" filter basically makes you a different person. It sharpens your chin, fills in your eyebrows, smooths your skin, brightens your cheeks — hell, it might even improve your credit score, who knows. It's a wildly effective filter — it can be difficult to decipher that it's a filter at all. Folks immediately pointed out the danger of such a filter.
Imagine the beauty standards it would set. People don't want to live in a world where everyone has to airbrush out anything perceived as an imperfection.
Link #2: Elon Musk Has Broken Disaster-Response Twitter
I’ve been generally annoyed at changes Musk has made to Twitter since he took over, removing features and functionalities that made Twitter my #1 social media app for over a decade. But I haven’t had the sort of “apocalyptic” view that many who just hate Musk and his politics have had.
All of that is to say, this is one of the hallmarks of Twitter—being available for crisis response—and I am sad at how his changes are hindering that.
For years, Twitter was at its best when bad things happened. Before Elon Musk bought it last fall, before it was overrun with scammy ads, before it amplified fake personas, and before its engineers were told to get more eyeballs on the owner’s tweets, Twitter was useful in saving lives during natural disasters and man-made crises. Emergency-management officials have used the platform to relate timely information to the public—when to evacuate during Hurricane Ian, in 2022; when to hide from a gunman during the Michigan State University shootings earlier this month—while simultaneously allowing members of the public to transmit real-time data. The platform didn’t just provide a valuable communications service; it changed the way emergency management functions.
Link #3: How your brain data could be used against you
“How your brain data could be used against you” is a sentence I never thought I would have to read, but…*motions broadly*…here we are. (This isn’t a social media article, but I found it interesting, so I decided to break my rule of “share only social media articles.” :-)
There is also a move toward remote brain stimulation—treatments that can be delivered to people at home, while their brain recordings are sent to a doctor’s office. Both approaches involve collecting, storing, and sharing brain data, which might reveal the state of the brain at any given time and hint at what the person is doing or feeling at that moment.
“Is this a problem?” Jennifer Chandler, who studies legal, ethical, and policy issues in neuroscience at the University of Ottawa in Canada, asked the audience. “It depends how it will be used.”
THE FUNNY PART
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Trivia Answer: Beauty and the Beast