This is why we can’t have nice things.
Let’s start with Roseanne Barr, whose 2018 career trajectory looks a little like the flight of a model rocket with a faulty parachute.
First came the ABC revival of her beloved sitcom, Roseanne. It came out of the gate like an angry buffalo, galloping to some seriously eye-popping ratings. ABC quickly renewed the show for a second season, and everyone was happy.
Until this week, that is, when Barr popped off a racially incendiary tweet referencing Valerie Jarrett, an African-American member of the Obama administration. Reaction was swift. ABC quickly cancelled the show, saying that Barr’s tweet was “abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.” Disney Chairman Bob Iger chimed in on Twitter himself, saying there was “only one thing to do.” Barr has since apologized and blamed the drug Ambien for the tweet, but she also took some of the show’s own cast members to task for their harsh reactions.
Barr wasn’t alone on the social media hot seat, though. Jeffrey Tambor, who was fired from the show Transparent because of sexual harassment accusations, admitted that he’d also been verbally abusive on the set of Arrested Development, especially to his on-screen wife, Jessica Walter. In a rather bizarre interview with The New York Times, Tambor, Walter and other Arrested Development cast members addressed the issue, with some—especially Jason Bateman—seeming to defend Tambor’s behavior. The Twitterverse was seriously unhappy about that, forcing an apology from Bateman. “I shouldn’t have tried so hard to mansplain, or fix a fight, or make everything okay,” he tweeted. Not everyone is mollified, though.
Meanwhile, housecleaning related to the #MeToo movement continues apace. Disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein recently turned himself in to the New York City police was after being charged with rape. He’s out on $1 million bail. Meanwhile, Morgan Freeman apologized for his own on-set behavior toward women, but he’s also pushing back against CNN’s report that documented that behavior—demanding the news service issue a retraction. “It is not right to equate horrific incidents of sexual assault with misplaced compliments or humor,” he said in a letter issued by his attorney.
All these scandals would’ve been serious enough on their own, but there’s little question that our social media culture seems to have increased both the stakes and the blowback. And the influence those who use social media well is truly staggering. In a fascinating study from Mintel, more than a third of children ages 6-17 (34%) said that social media stars were among their top role models. That’s slightly higher than musicians, athletes and actors, and more than twice as high as the president (who got 16% of the vote).
(But parents, don’t fret too much: The study also found that Mom and Dad were far and away the winners of the poll, with 86% naming their parents as among their top role models.)
The study was particularly interesting given that, once again, experts are saying how damaging social media and technology can be for folks. The Guardian notes that ubiquitous smartphone use among teens coincides with increases in depression and suicide. U.S. News tells us that teens’ social media habits seem to be related to alcohol consumption. Why, some are saying that technology is even screwing up kids’ ability to hold a pencil.
But hey there, it’s not just kids and teens impacted by this stuff. It’s the oldsters, too. According to yet another study, we’re most negatively impacted by social media at age … 30. Oh, and here’s something a little sobering. Whether Facebook makes you sad or not as a parent, checking in on it—or anything else on your phone—might make your kids feel less important. In a heartbreaking writing assignment in Louisiana, a second-grader wrote, “I hate my mom’s phone and I wish she never had one.” Another teacher, responding to the letter (which was, ironically, posted to Facebook and went viral), said that “every single one of the students said their parents spend more time on FB then they do talking to their child.”
But technology isn’t all bad. According to a study by the folks at Union College, “exergaming”—video games that have a built-in exercise component—can help folks 55 and older hold off cognitive impairment.
Hey, maybe a few people we might’ve (or might not’ve) mentioned here that could benefit from something like this.