Friday, August 30, 2013

Bits & Pieces: Miley Cyrus, Sexting & More

Miley Cyrus.

Who knew that that name would now be synonymous with twerking and all things wrong with society.

Putting Cyrus’ actions aside, and those of her dance partner Robin Thicke, this column is about more than the VMA’s.

For the record, I think both of them were equally culpable, but marketing geniuses. Let’s face it, Thicke is now a recognizable name — beyond his famous father, and Cyrus, well, she’s effectively shaken the Disney brand in one thrust of her hips.

Each day, we try to have a question of the day on The Grove Sun’s Facebook page. Sometimes we ask random questions, other times, we pull questions “ripped from the headlines.”

Past questions have ranged from “If they made a movie about your life, which actor would play you?” to “If you attend a church/faith group in the area, what would you like people to know about it.”

Questions designed to engage readers and encourage a discussion, albeit on Facebook. Questions also designed to help us, as a newspaper staff, gain an understanding of our readership.

On Monday, I posted a question regarding the Civil Rights movement’s 50th anniversary. According to our page insights, 327 people “engaged” with the post. No one commented, liked or shared it.

Later in the day, I joined the crowd and posted second question of the day, along with a picture of Cyrus and Thicke and asked a bland question about their performance at the VMA’s.

Within an hour, more than 20 people had weighed in on the subject. As of today (yes, people are still commenting), 2,560 people engaged with the post, and it had 62 likes, comments or shares.

Wow.

On Tuesday, feeling a bit philosophical, I posed a follow up question, comparing the silence regarding civil rights vs. the popularity of Cyrus’ actions.

As of today, 1,176 people engaged with that post, with 27 commenting, liking or sharing the post. Most continued to discuss the downfall of Cyrus and her actions. Others took the silence on civil rights as a sign of society’s downfall.

It struck me though, a few individuals said they wanted to comment on the civil right's issue, but refrained. It seems talking about a “pop culture” issue is safe, while talking about one that could merit a serious discussion carries the possibility of potential reprisal.

It’s interesting to see what engages people on Facebook, and which questions elicit response.

Frankly, we’ll keep asking questions each day. Hopefully it will generate discussion — because ultimately, that’s what it takes to make a change or difference.

Speaking of discussion. I know from friends they have used Cyrus’ and Thicke’s actions Sunday night to talk to their teens about a variety of related issues.

One friend, whose daughter is named Mollie, (the subject of Cyrus’ song) found herself explaining how the name Molly is now synonymous with a pure form of the drug ecstasy. A painful, but necessary discussion.

In today’s issue, we have a story about an Eucha man accused of “sexting” lewd messages and images to what he thought was a 17-year-old female. His mistext (a.k.a. he messaged the wrong person) led to his arrest on Wednesday evening.

All puns and comments aside, it is my hope you use this story to remind your teen (and tween) about the issues surrounding sexting (or sending sexually explicit images and messages via mobile devices). Think it can’t happen here? Think again. It does, and it did.

Remember, it’s our job as adults to have open and honest discussions with the students in our lives about these issues. The issues are too important to simply ignore.

Kaylea M. Hutson is the managing editor of The Grove Sun. She can be reached at kaylea.hutson@grovesun.com or 918-786-2228. This column originally appeared in the Aug. 30, 2013 issue of The Grove Sun

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