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.