In our quest to keep our finger on the pulse of all things youth culture, we come across plenty of trending content that says a lot about the interests and tastes of Millennials right this minute. While we are dedicated to letting you know about the bigger trends affecting the generation, these smaller “flash” trends can be just as important, providing a window into the lives and minds of the generation, and sometimes building into something larger over time. To pass our viral content knowledge on to you, we’re continuing our What’s Trending series to give you a snapshot of Millennial culture, and keep you on top of the things you should know:
Yes, you read that right. Last month, Rihanna’s extremely popular Instagram account @badgalriri was suspended after she posted images of herself in a topless photoshoot. Little did the network know that that suspension would start a firestorm of protest against their strict, some say “puritanical,” Terms of Service. Rihanna deleted her account in protest. Then Instagram shut down Scout Willis’ account with no notice after she posted a photo of a sweatshirt featuring topless women. Willis took to the streets of New York in a topless protest, posting pictures of herself sans shirt on Twitter with the hashtag #FreeTheNipple. The protest has caught on, with other celebrities and users rallying to accuse the network of censorship. Rihanna expressed her support of Willis, and many viewed her see-through CFDA gown as another statement of protest against censoring female bodies, and solidarity with the #FreeTheNipple movement. RiRi has changed her Twitter avatar to an illustration of Family Guy’s Peter Griffin in the dress. This past Sunday, a group of topless protestors inspired by Willis gathered in Washington Square Park to protest internet censorship and promote their upcoming film on the topic. Meanwhile, rebellion is rising on Instagram itself, where images that violate the female topless nudity rules—including many of Rihanna in her now famous CFDA dress— are being posted along with variations of the #FreeTheNipple hashtag. Some of these images are posts of classic artwork, and others capture moments of breastfeeding, a notorious hot button when it comes to censoring visuals of women’s bodies. Twitter and Tumblr have been earning kudos for their more liberal approach to content, and the Twitter account @FreeTheNipple has been established to chronicle the movement. Though the campaign might not feel like a worthy cause to some, it exemplifies the way that Millennials approach protest, and gender equality. Their issue with the censorship of female bodies is directly related to their view that whatever men are allowed to do, women should be allowed to do as well, and they’re taking to the digital forums, where they are more confident their voices will be heard, to make their sentiments known.
What started as a Twitter account “social experiment” in San Francisco has ballooned into an international frenzy. The account @HiddenCash, run by a wealthy anonymous man, began posting photo clues to hint at where envelopes of cash had been hidden in San Francisco, prompting mass scavenger hunts. The anonymous benefactor behind the account has tweeted that bringing people together in a positive way is his only goal, and has said that the hunts are all in fun, and to “put a smile on someone’s face.” He encourages people who can afford it to pay it forward and share the money they find, and some have tweeted back at him confirming that they are sharing their loot. Rather than feeling the account is motivating greed and competition, many are sending messages thanking him for “bringing out the best in people” and “putting a smile in people’s hearts.” Other users have tweeted at the account to share the other good deeds they’re doing, showing themselves donating toys, giving blood, and cleaning up beaches after @HiddenCash offered money to the first ten people that tweeted a picture of themselves doing something nice. @HiddenCash began to hide money in other cities in late May, and copycats began to spring up around the world. Hidden cash hunts have spread to Nashville, Toronto, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Dallas, and more. The crowds hunting for cash have ballooned, and those lucky enough to find envelopes of green are posting pictures of themselves with their prizes to social media, spurring the excitement and buzz even further. The original @HiddenCash account currently has 453,000 followers on Twitter and has hinted at something big on the horizon. Though it’s obvious that the money is the real motivator in the spread of the hidden cash phenomenon, it has managed to be embraced on a widespread scale and escape backlash by grounding itself in positivity and doing good, a message that continues to resonate with Millennials, especially if they are also being given the opportunity to experience something unique, and be rewarded.