Today’s girls “live for the Likes,” Shanterra McBride told everyone gathered for her Culver Women’s Celebration talk on Feb. 28. Girls are using technology as a form of “social media therapy. What can I put up that will make you pay attention to me?”
McBride, who spoke at Culver four years ago, is the founder and director of PLOT (Preparing Leaders of Today) and recently became the assistant principal of student life at Sacred Heart Preparatory School in Palo Alto, Calif. The theme of this year’s CWC was “Share Your Story.” But McBride said technology is letting girls “share” without really sharing.
Sharing our stories is difficult, she said, because “it makes us vulnerable.” It brings out the insecurities and can lead to gossip. And every girl knows that “people who gossip with you will gossip about you.”
But, girls also “feed off relationships” – especially those where you complete each other’s sentences, can have “eye conversations,” and people really get to know you, she said. When she was growing up, there was the telephone and passing notes.
Today, though, girls are using Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine as self-esteem boosters. They are less personal and let people pretend they care. Girls will post they are having a bad day just to get others to comment on much they care about them.
Girls also will shoot 10 to 15 photos before selecting one for Instagram, then select “no filter” when they post it. But, McBride added, they have already filtered that Instagram post by selecting the best one of the 15. And Vine is now a competition to see who can be the most creative in that limited amount of time.
Why? To see the Likes start to appear. “Live for the Likes,” McBride said. Girls want to make people laugh but they don’t want to open up. “We don’t want to be vulnerable. People may judge us.”
But girls need to look at how they judge others, McBride said. She knows she judges others “compared to me.” Girls are looking for the flaws in others so “I can destroy you so I can feel better about me. I want to find somebody to be better than. Vulnerability is the last thing I want you to see in me, but the first thing I look for in you.”
And that is when the wall goes up, she said. People are not comfortable with being vunerable. McBride then quoted Dr. Bené Brown, a sociologist, who said, “An act of courage is an act of storytelling.”
That is why girls need to take a different path and stop looking for flaws in the storyteller. They need to really listen to these stories and respect them for their courage. And each girl must be willing to become a storyteller – have the courage to be vulnerable.