The Social Network of Self-Harm

Amidst the call-to-action for issues such as bullying, texting and driving, and substance abuse among teens lies an issue that remains hidden in social network feeds and under sweatshirt sleeves: self-harm. In a group of ten teens, at least one is self-harming, whether through eating disorders or physical injury. We know what these behaviors look like—cutting, starving, purging, criticizing—but more than one-fourth of young adults consciously avoid talking about these subjects and one in six parents of teens admit to avoiding the topic of mental illness. Though teens and parents share age-old experiences of adolescent angst, previous generations were without the constant barrage of images from the internet of physical (albeit Photoshopped) perfection, pro-ana websites, and self-injury how-to forums. The dark side of the internet promotes these activities and sets a grave stage for Millennials to escape from external pressures.
 
Millennial author Anna Caltabiano’s dystopian novel All That Is Red has gained recognition for giving a voice to self-harming teens and a glimpse at how for some “the intimate euphoria of pain can sometimes be all we have to remind us that we are alive.” The book is not meant to be autobiographical, but the adventure story integrates the topics of self-harm and isolation through the trials of its young female heroine. In writing All That Is Red, Anna set out to battle the stigma surrounding self-harm, an issue that is “always there, not just in the United States, but all over the world and we as a society still feel like it isn’t acceptable to discuss it.”

Caltabiano describes self-harm as “inflicting pain on yourself just to concentrate on this one thing you can control,” both feeding and numbing the isolation that teens feel in an increasingly fragmented…

 
 

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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “Whenever I'm bored, I can always find something to do on my phone.”

—Male, 17, GA

Have teens have killed another retailer? Aeropostale has filed for bankruptcy, and plans to immediately close 154 of its over 800 stores. Young consumers’ preference for fast fashion and real-time access to trends has left “mall retailers” like Delia’s, Wet Seal, and Aeropostale in the dust. Last year the struggling clothing brand announced they were attempting to revive sales by “exploring strategic alternatives,” and focusing on a “flirty tomboy girl” consumer. However, it missed the mark, and “[t]he majority of the blame for poor performance lies squarely with [Aeropostale’s] failure to realign itself to the changing fashion demands of younger shoppers.” (Washington Post)  

These days, Osh-Kosh-B’Gosh just won’t do for well-to-do kids growing up in a market that might just make them the best-dressed generation. The luxury childrenswear market continues to boom, with a forecasted reach of $291.5 billion by the end of 2018. Since we first wrote about the trend, more designer brands have launched lines exclusively for “pint-sized clientele,” and online stores focusing on upscale fashion for babies and kids have grown. Although considered a small revenue driver for companies, brands hope that childrenswear will inspire brand loyalty from a young age, and remind adults of their own “coming-of-age moments.” (Digiday

Social network meets “college newspaper on steroids” Odyssey is racking up 30 million uniques a month, with a simple but challenging business model. The site lets any young writer contribute content, as long as they have a unique perspective and publish an article a week. The model results in about 10,000 articles each week from writers aged 18-28, who then share their posts through their own personal social networks. Although they are unpaid, the writers gain exposure from posting to the platform—two to 4.5 times more than if they self-published. (Business Insider)  

Snapchat’s CEO Evan Spiegel’s ability to “speak Millennial” has been key to the app’s success. The platform’s appeal lies in the “less demanding” content it encourages. As the Columbia student who interviewed Spiegel put it, “If you want to take a photo of the beautiful day outside…you can put it on Instagram, but what about that huge space of photos that aren’t 10 out of 10 perfection.” Recently Spiegel declared that Snapchat is a “camera company.” Though messaging and content are part of the app, the camera is the focus because “[t]he thing that feeds a social network is content.” (International Business Times)

We recently broke down all the ways Millennials are updating and redefining workplace standards—and it looks like Millennials in the U.K. may also prioritize meaning over a big paycheck. A U.K. survey of 13-25-year-olds revealed that “44% equate happiness with success and 32% said that for them prosperity is more about achieving their personal goals.” The things that might have motivated previous generations were lower priorities: only 11% of U.K. Millennials said they are motivated by the prospect of owning a house, and 29% said they are motivated by being paid more for their work. (Elite Business

Quote of the Day: “The type of commercials that stick in my memory are the ones that make me evaluate my life.”—Female, 28, SD

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