James Franco is the latest celebrity to land himself in hot water with his lack of proper social media etiquette, having attempted to pick up a 17-year-old girl via Instagram. The conversation, released as screen captures, has heaped a pile of embarrassment on the actor, and he is just one more famous personality who has proven to be out of the loop when it comes to using social media without causing a career imploding scandal. Perhaps if these future legends of stage and screen would just learn a few basic rules of social media use, the same rules that the average user abides by, they would end up saving themselves a world of trouble.
There is one trend that celebrities like Franco participate in that absolutely needs to die a horrible, slow, agonizing death. The trend being referred to is that of the nude or semi-nude selfie. So many famous individuals are taking these pictures and posting them on Instagram, thinking this is a creative way to express their artistic side, or to get the attention they need for validation. The problem here is that when these same actors and musicians get negative feedback on their photographs, they blow their tops off (no pun intended). Criticism for exposing one’s body, a practice that has not yet become completely socially acceptable, though it is arguably on its way that direction, becomes a form of “shaming” that demands a haughty response.
Truth be told, the majority of the world would rather not see the naked form of every famous star on the planet. Also, celebrities do not seem to realize that what gets put up on the Internet will be there forever. This means their children and their children’s children may have access to images of them in all of their naughty glory. Nothing screams therapy like a kid seeing a nude picture of grandma while surfing the web. In short, if an individual is in the public eye, they need to keep their clothes on.
While James Franco may lack a lot of knowledge when it comes to social media etiquette, many other celebs have proven that they know even less, when they take to Twitter and Facebook to rant and rave about their political passions or some perceived slight they received from a Hollywood insider. Many posts from famous individuals like, Roseanne Barr for example, seem to be completely reactionary and emotionally driven. The content of such posts is usually filled with four-letter words and venomous vitriol, not to mention a helping of contempt. This tends to make people look silly, not passionate. That is not to say that social media cannot be used to express strong emotions on serious subjects, but that care should be taken to ensure the response is thoughtful and causes people to examine how they feel on the issue. This looks like intelligence and reason, instead of the ramblings of someone who is off their rocker. A good rule of thumb is that if something is said that would make a mother turn five shades of red, it probably should not be said, or at least said differently.
Celebrities should also avoid using social media as a dating tool. This is obviously a lesson that Franco has now learned the hard way. It seems that when famous people get on social media, they completely forget they are famous, with thousands and thousands of followers reading their posts and viewing their pictures. With such a large following, it does not take long for something that is said to make its way around the world, thanks to the Internet. Something as personal as having a relationship or encounter with someone should be handled in person, rather than through social media. If the relationship sours, and one person has photos and texts that would spark controversy, it could spell disaster for the individual in question. Keep as much of life private as possible, despite the spotlight shining down on every move that is made. Hopefully, this incident has slapped James Franco awake, and he will learn the proper etiquette for using social media, so that these embarrassing moments do not become a regular thing.
Opinion by Michael Cantrell