Mean Tweets’ Effect on Identity Development

The late night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live! has created buzz by using “mean tweets” directed at celebrities and athletes as a comedy segment. In the segment series, celebrities and athletes read the tweets about them in a way that is meant to be funny and light-hearted. I came across a spin-off of this series called “Kids Read Mean Tweets” that is meant to show the real-life effects of cyber bullying on kids. Because of the anonymity and pervasiveness of the internet, cyber bullying is something that arguably affects most children today in some way, whether it be as the aggressor, the victim, a bystander, or a mediator.

I am interested in how cyber bullying affects identity development. In class we have discussed that childhood and girlhood are times of identity formation, when children begin exploring who they are based on their perceptions of themselves and others’ perceptions of them (Keywords for Children’s Literature, Coats). In The Bluest Eye (Morrison), the ideas of identity and identity development are largely based on racialized beauty standards projected on the girls throughout their lives. Similarly, the “mean tweets” the children are reading in the segment are seen as negatively affecting identity development of the victims, based on the perceptions of the cyber bullies. Both can be read as examples of children forming their identities based on feedback from peers and society as a whole telling them who they should be.

11 thoughts on “Mean Tweets’ Effect on Identity Development”

  1. Connecting cyberbullying to the Keyword Identity was a great idea. A large part of cyberbullying or bullying in general stems from aggressors attacking their victim’s identity. I was wondering, is their a particular group that suffers more from cyberbullying?

  2. Although I have not seen the Jimmy Kimmel comedy segment, I don’t think things like mean tweets are something to laugh about. I think that this video that you shared shows the seriousness of cyberbullying on social media accounts. As you said, the identities of the children featured in this video are negatively affected. It seems that posting mean things on social media is too easy. Bullies do not have to deal directly with their victims and they might not always realize the negative impact their comment will have on the victim. I think that social media is very unhealthy for the identity development of young children.

  3. I found this video to be very powerful. Where it is amusing to watch celebrities read these mean tweets, as they not seen as real people, it is heartbreaking to witness average children being cyberbullied to the same extent. I feel that this video helped to show the repercussions of cyberbullying on children (and anyone), because it is so easy to send a mean text/tweet without having to witness the aftermath. The Canadian Safe School Network helped viewers to visualize the damage done to these children’s self-confidence, as the laughter from the audience slowly fades out and it is no longer a joke. It also makes viewers step back and think that although celebrities may receive hate more frequently than the average person, it would have a similar effect for them, especially for child actors who are still forming their identity.

  4. I really enjoyed your blog post! I have always found Jimmy Kimmel’s mean tweets segment to be funny but it is important to acknowledge the damaging effects cyberbullying has on children. It has become such an issue what with the rise of social media platforms. I think it teenagers are especially vulnerable because they are going through a large identity formation and take what their peers say very seriously.

  5. I have always been uncomfortable with the mean tweets segment on Jimmy Kimmel and this seems to validate that gut feeling you get while watching. The viewer can feel the discomfort of the audience laughing at the tweets being read, while most phase out we wonder what motivated them to laugh in the first place? Did they laugh because they knew it was supposed to be funny? Did they laugh because everyone else was laughing? Although there is great importance to realize you cant please everyone, that is not and excuse for the outright bullying of individuals on any platform. Thank you for sharing this.

  6. I have watched so many of these segments on Jimmy Kimmel’s show and have honestly always thought they were hilarious. I never really thought about the idea behind them though because celebrities always seem to take them so lightly. People need to realize that these mean tweets, though celebrities can take them, are the harsh reality of the lives of some girls. Girls get cyber bullied everyday, and it is not something that should be taken with a grain of salt. “Mean tweets” along with every other form of cyber bullying can really hinder the self-image a young girl has. Those mean things said to her over a computer screen can negatively affect her for the rest of her life. Though these segments seem light-hearted, the idea behind them is the disturbing truth some girls live through every day.

  7. I think this is super interesting, because the original on Jimmy Kimmel is meant to be humorous. Now looking at it, I think by using celebrities in the Jimmy Kimmel version, it encourages kids to just laugh off mean tweets/cyberbullying. Even at the beginning of this video clip, it starts off with the audience laughing. It takes a serious turn and the laughing stops. This is I think a direct representation of cyberbullying. People can only laugh off mean tweets for so long. Kids need to be able to emotionally deal with bullying, and just because the bullying comes from behind a screen, doesn’t take the seriousness out of the matter. I think cyberbullying could easily shape a sense of identity, because it affects so many parts of a child’s life, from self-esteem, friends and their school work.

  8. I agree with the fact that cyberbullying is destroying today’s generation of children and teens regarding self-worth. Technology has had such an impact on them in today’s society. It keeps creating this ideal image of the perfect body and perfect personality so that if a child doesn’t perfectly match it, he/she will constantly try to be someone that they’re not in order to meet this standard. It’s just heartbreaking.

  9. I admit the “Mean Tweets” segment on Jimmy Kimmel used to be one of my favorite things on TV, but after watching this video, I don’t think I’ll ever think about it the same way. Cyber bullying definitely has an impact on one’s self-image, and almost everyone is impacted by it at some point in their life. Everyone handles being bullied differently, so you may never know the extent to which a few hurtful words could affect someone. With all the different social media platforms girls have access to, there are so many ways they could be targeted by someone hiding behind a screen.

  10. I think that this is a really productive way to get the message out about cyberbullying. Unfortunately, this is real for way too many children and teenagers. Cyberbullying absolutely effects identity development but I think that a commercial like this presents the message really well especially since it is compared to Jimmy Kimmel’s show, which many people are familiar with.

  11. Thanks for sharing this video! I am a huge fan of the celebrities read mean tweets videos, but this one is quite different. I think as a child or young adult, you don’t have enough self confidence or understanding of who you are as an individual to simply shake off those mean words. Cyberbullying is detrimental to young adults, and frankly to most people, and I really think this video is advocating for the right reasons.

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