INSTAFAME: Positive Use of Social Media

A selfie acts as window into a person’s world. It’s a representation of both attitude and lifestyle.  Young people are using social media as a way to share a narrative and what narrative they decide to share is solely up to them.  While most of the selfies under examination in our study are about building personal brands and monetizing popularity, there are other young people using social media for good.   Much like the ones who want to achieve “instafame” these youth have open privacy settings and have deliberately opened themselves to the public, but in stark contrast they have done so to shed light on important issues that affect young people. The tools they use are exactly the same as those employed by “Instafame” teens, but instead of adding personal value, they are adding value to a social cause.  These youth understand that social media is an opportunity to reveal themselves and the issues that affect them, in a meaningful way. 

Giving Tuesday

A notable number of young people have taken part in the Giving Tuesday campaign that rallies for support of non-profit organizations.  Encouraging unselfishness, many young people took selfies holding a sign saying what they did to participate in Giving Tuesday by using the hashtag #unselfie and uploading their pictures to their Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts. 




At-risk high school students from Kansas City, Missouri converted a 1967 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia into an electric car with a battery fueled by social media.  Through Mindrive, a non-profit organization that mentors teens to help them design electric cars, these high school students programmed their car battery to be literally charged by social media “likes” from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  The number of likes they eventually received made it possible to drive the car from Kansas City to Washington DC also shedding light on the Minddrive program and the positives of reusable fuel. Watch more about Mindrive HERE. 

Have A Gay Day

Issak Wolfe, a transgender high school senior in Pennsylvania was denied a chance to become Prom King.  After publicly campaigning with flyers and posters Wolfe’s principal - uncomfortable with listing him as Prom King on the official ballot - instead listed him under his birth name and as a Prom Queen candidate.  Humiliated and upset that his school wasn’t progressive enough, Wolfe took to social media and soon his story was posted on the popular LBGT issues Facebook page, Have A Gay Day where it managed to quickly garner over 3,000 likes.  A Change.Org petition was also quickly set up to get Wolfe’s name on the Prom King ballot with his correct name.  The petition was eventually posted on Reddit and collected over 4,500 signatures to promote LBGT equality.

Sites such as Live.Do.Grow. and the Facebook group Grow Global Citizens encourages teens and tweens to use social media to learn about the world around them and to help support noble social causes.