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In case you’ve been living under a rock this last week, Miley Cyrus chose MTV’s Video Music Awards to come out of the Hanna Montana closet, and shed her image as the school-girl icon of yesteryear. She twerked her way into mainstream media and went viral on Youtube, as if to say ‘I am a grown woman.’ Or, as her song points out, “she’s here to party, does what she wants, and doesn’t care what anybody has to say.”
However, several media outlets have speculated that, indeed, she WILL care what people think and say when the video of her twerking is brought up over and over again in the future. What if Miley decides to pursue a ‘serious’ career in popular music, or an acting career? Even 10 years from now, who will take her seriously whenever a video of her dancing provocatively with stuffed bears pops up over and over again?
In this day and age, it’s become apparent that anything you do in real life may be subject to being recorded and uploaded for all of eternity. The path to mature adulthood would be amiss without some youthful indiscretions, crazy behavior and embarrassing mistakes, but in the 21st century, there is an added stressful possibility that you might be recorded, and that recording might not only be revealed to all of your friends, families and co-workers, but it might in fact follow you around the rest of your life.
So, what do you do if you find an embarrassing video or photo on the internet?
1.) Delete! Delete! Delete! – if an incriminating video or photo shows up on a social media platform, find out what options you have of crushing it like a bug. For example, Facebook has options where you can untag yourself from photos. However, that may not be enough. Don’t be afraid to ask the person who posted the embarrassing material to take it down. Often times, they will not know that the material is sensitive to you until you speak up. If they refuse, your social media platform may have an option in which you can report the material as offensive. Here are some more tips from Lifehacker.
2.) Damage Control – if you find that too many people have already seen the embarrassing material, or too many people are posting it (must have been some party!), and it’s already gone ‘viral’ within your social group, consider going with the flow. Own it. Let people know that you are aware of the embarrassing situation, that you are young and make mistakes, or even consider a posted apology, etc. If you get out in front of it, it tends to take the steam out of the train. After all, most of why people share something embarrassing is to embarrass the person – and if the person is owning up to the behavior, then there is nothing left to do but move on to the next ‘victim.’
3.) Log off and Lay Low – Has the material already spread like wildfire, and you’re unable to stamp it out or escape it? Consider deleting all of your social media logins and lying low for a while. One certainty in life is that people have a short attention span, and will most likely forget about the picture or video and move on to the next interesting thing. Staying away from social media for awhile might also change your perspective on what is important in life, and that embarrassing picture might not seem like the dire situation you thought it was.
4.) Seek Help – What if the online material is so bad that you feel like the only way to escape the embarrassment is to disappear for good? There have been several news reports of teenagers that have taken their own lives after an embarrassing video has been texted in between students or surfaced on the internet. Nothing ‘embarrassing’ is ever worth committing suicide over. If you find yourself in a place where you feel helpless and unable to control the situation, seek help – either from friends, parents, school administration or a licensed therapist. They can provide perspective about the long term effects, and coping tips on how to deal and move on from your public humiliation. If you feel that we can provide you with help, you can contact us to make a counseling appointment. We offer adult counseling and teen counseling.
Brought to you by Just Mind, counselors in Austin who are working to provide their clients with the best care possible.