Late Night Open Thread: Social Media Is A Bad Place for the Clueless

Since I use this blogging platform largely to share online links and embed twitter posts, I can hardly condemn social media as a concept. But as the saying goes: Nothing can be made foolproof, because the fools are so ingenious.

Although I suppose it’s some kind of progress when, if a tween girl must be pimped out to support her family, it’s done through virtual reality. Allow me a ‘kids these days’ moment over a world where Buzzfeed and Netflix collaborate on a documentary series “Inside The World Of Teenagers With Millions Of Followers”

Being an adolescent is inherently awful, but the best thing about it may be the complete lack of shame teenagers feel for the things they love. The breadth and depth of their fandom — say, for some online influencer with millions of underage fans — might be perplexing for those of us older than 18, but it makes perfect sense for teens who love whatever they love with their whole being…

Danielle Cohn is one of those teenage curiosities that most of us old enough to vote (have you registered yet?) don’t know much about despite her alarmingly potent online popularity. At the wee age of 14, she already has a startling 2.6 million Instagram followers and 11.2 million on an app called TikTok. (You might know TikTok better as, the app where the youth lip-synched and bopped around in front of their phones in 15-second video clips. It changed its name to TikTok in early August.) Cohn’s videos don’t exactly sound worthy of millions upon millions of followers: They’re largely just her, in full hair and makeup, lip-synching in front of her camera phone and a bright ring light, shaking her hips and smiling wide. And yet.

Cohn looms large online, but in person, she is teeny tiny. Her Instagram is, like a lot of young girls, seemingly curated to make her appear older, but in person she just looks like a pubescent girl with a remarkable amount of hair extensions. When I met her earlier this year, she was living in the Studio City neighborhood of Los Angeles with her mom, her brother, and a gray puppy named Silverpom who was suffering from an eye infection. She and her family are from Florida, but moved to LA so Cohn’s career as an influencer could really take off, and eventually be parlayed into a Hollywood career, as attempted by so many internet celebrities before her.

Cohn’s burden is twofold: Not only does she have a hungry and demanding fanbase to appease, but she’s a significant part of her family’s financial backbone. There’s online popularity to maintain, but also new clothes to buy, agents to compensate, and of course, the family rent to pay through her live events and sponsored posts…

Ultimately, there’s nothing explicitly sexual about Cohn’s act online, nor is there when she shows me how she makes one of her videos in person. She mostly mugs for the camera and flips her hair and points and cocks a hip and acts out sassiness. It’s a reminder that our anxiety about a girl like Cohn being sexualized comes only because we, as adults, are sexualizing a child. I believe her when she says her work is chaste…

And now I am, in my own small way, part of the problem (am I wrong to assume kids like Cohn attract as many older male followers as they do other young girls — or that the platforms monetizing them don’t really care?) Excuse me while I go find a new onion for my belt…

33 replies
  1. 1
    seaboogie says:

    Thank you for the open thread, AL. Not going to twist my head any further with this. In Sonoma we are experiencing the platonic ideal of a nighttime quenching rain for the second night in a row. Coming up to the anniversary of our destructive fires, this is so welcome, and such a balm to our collective psyche.

  2. 2

    Interesting and perhaps enlightening parallels (or dystopian cyberpunk near futures) can be seen in Japanese ‘idol’ culture.

  3. 3
    Zach says:

    JFC. Kavanaugh’s 1983 “Beach Week” letter is a shot-for-shot remake of Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s “The Implication”… without the irony.

    Someone, please, cast a young Brett Kavanaugh and one of his dopier sounding buddies and make a parody of the Always episode quickly.

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    ascap_scab says:

    So, what happens when she turns 18 and she is not the cute prancing girl she is now? Do the “Roy Moore’s” tune out? Out of money, does the family move back to Podunk-a-ville? Or do they go full porn in the valley?

  6. 6

    @ascap_scab: They’re already in The Valley, so they’re halfway there. Snark aside, I assume they’ll try to get her into films on the other side of the Hollywood Hills.

  7. 7
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    The 2017 ProPublica investigation found that American law enforcement officials had taken little action in response to the Rise Above Movement’s repeated public acts of violence, which the group proudly documented in online videos, even though the group’s leaders had violent criminal histories.

    Federal prosecutors said the reporting played a central part in the criminal investigation, which remains ongoing. But Cullen also raised questions about how much more time federal prosecutors would be able to devote to holding white supremacists accountable for violence last August. “We have limited resources,” Cullen said, asking later: “How many of these cases can we do?”

    Well maybe you should redirect some resources from your attempts to “infiltrate” the Black Lives Matter movement and put them into investigating actual, you know, violent people?

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  9. 9
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Australia looks set to become the first country in the world to wipe out cervical cancer, thanks to national vaccination and screening programs which could see the disease effectively eliminated as a public health issue within 20 years.

    New research published in The Lancet Public Health forecasts the disease will soon be a rarity in Australia, with fewer than six new cases per 100,000 women by 2022, and fewer than four new cases per 100,000 women by 2035.

    In 2007, Australia launched a national publically-funded school immunisation program for the Gardasil vaccine to tackle the human papillomavirus (HPV). Vaccination rates in Australia are at 79% for girls at age 15 and 73% for boys. There’s been a 50% reduction in cervical cancer cases in Australia since the introduction of the pap smear in 1991.

    “If high-coverage vaccination and screening is maintained … cervical cancer could be considered to be eliminated as a public health problem in Australia within the next 20 years,” the researchers from the Australian Cancer Council wrote in the article.

    Butbutbutbut what about the explosion in teen pregnancy caused by consequence free sexy times??? Huh???

  10. 10
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Forgot the linky again. I think I needs more coffee.

    Australia on track to wipe out cervical cancer within 20 years

  11. 11
    Debbie(Aussie) says:

    Nice doggy, sad tale 😢

  12. 12
    Debbie(Aussie) says:

    Isn’t this wonderful news! Only 1 in 1000 will die from cervical cancer by 2034. Good news!

  13. 13

    @OzarkHillbilly: That was pretty big news here in LA since 3 of the guys that were arrested were local.

  14. 14
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: I’m now reading the ProPublica article: Racist, Violent, Unpunished: A White Hate Group’s Campaign of Menace

    Despite their prior records, and open boasting of current violence, RAM has seemingly drawn little notice from law enforcement. Four episodes of violence documented by ProPublica resulted in only a single arrest — and in that case prosecutors declined to go forward. Law enforcement officials in the four cities — Charlottesville, Huntington Beach, San Bernardino and Berkeley — either would not comment about RAM or said they had too little evidence or too few resources to seriously investigate the group’s members.

    In Virginia, two months after the deadly events in Charlottesville, Corinne Geller, a spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police, would not say if the police had identified RAM as a dangerous group. “We’re not going to be releasing the names of the groups that we believe were present that day in Charlottesville,” she said. Investigators, she added, are still “reviewing footage” from the event.

    Law enforcement has a mixed record when it comes to anticipating and confronting the challenge of white supremacist violence.

    I nominate that last for understatement of the year.

  15. 15
    Central Planning says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: we are doing our part here. All of my kids (boys and girl) have gotten, or will get, the vaccine.

    And, I’ll have to ask my younger kids (13/15/17) about tiktok to see if they use it. If they do I suspect it is to watch, not create.

  16. 16
    JGabriel says:

    ProPublica via OzarkHillbilly:

    Law enforcement has a mixed record when it comes to anticipating and confronting the challenge of white supremacist violence.

    And yet an unfortunate and oddly successful record when it comes to enabling it.

  17. 17
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Central Planning: You must be some kind of elitist libtard rubbing your scientifically backed up medical procedures in our faces.

  18. 18
    Just One More Canuck says:

    @Central Planning: it’s offered through my daughter’s school here in Ontario

  19. 19
    RAVEN says:

    Yo! Now the task is to adapt to double peripheral vision. If I turn my head to look at the rear view mirror instead of looking out of the corner of my eye I see a single image.

  20. 20

    @Just One More Canuck: Yes, but everyone know that y’all up there are Godless Communists. Our Conservative Betters have assured us that these shots just encourage wanton sex among the youth.

  21. 21
    Mary says:

    I now feel somewhat vindicated about my seemingly irrational hatred of gender reveal parties.

  22. 22
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just One More Canuck: The dangers of socialized medicine!!!

  23. 23
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @RAVEN: So you’ve got a diagnosis? Or just a “Idaknow….”

  24. 24

    @OzarkHillbilly: St. Ronald of Reagan warned us about this.

  25. 25
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: Without his prescient foresight we would have been condemned to a life of good medical care at a decent price. The horror.

  26. 26
    Central Planning says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: weak sauce. You didn’t include socialist.

    OT: Firefox on my iPhone isn’t saving nym/email. Anyone else having that issue?

  27. 27
    Ken says:

    @Central Planning:

    If they do I suspect it is to watch, not create.

    This is the point in the summer comedy movie where you find the fully-equipped recording studio in the basement.

  28. 28
    Just One More Canuck says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: @OzarkHillbilly: the revolution is coming, one jab at time

    @Central Planning: it’s been an issue for a while – Alain and Samwise’s Human are working on it

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    Dave says:

    What is a gender reveal party? Does it require a fire?

  31. 31
    Tarragon says:

    It’s a public reveal of fetus gender including to the parents. It’s a thing now.

    Usually it’s done by color and exposed by releasing balloon cutting a cake or something.

    As for the second part, what doesn’t require fire?

  32. 32
    Just Chuck says:

    @Tarragon: Only thing new is the (godawful) name. I remember “It’s a Boy/Girl” parties when I was a kid.

  33. 33
    Darrin Ziliak (formerly glocksman) says:

    While I liked reactive targets back in my plinking days, Tannerite wouldn’t have been my pick because of what happened in this incident.
    My targets of choice were shaken up cans of skunky beer from the bar I worked at.

    The price was right (free), and they went up like baby grenades when hit with a .22 pistol, much less anything larger.

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