On Jheri Curls, Social Media, and Memes

Thank goodness memes weren’t around during my jheri curl years.

Hello, I am a social media addict. I can’t get enough of sharing information that I deem important and noteworthy with my interactive family. I manage a blog and maintain Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Google Plus accounts. I revel in televising my life experiences like so many other addicts.

I have come to terms with the fact that my images and opinions can be misconstrued and used as fodder to fuel another’s social media madness. Not all users engage in social media to enlighten or share joyous life events. Some users televise and spew hate and degradation through inappropriate comments and memes.

Often times, there is no recourse.

One mother found out the hard way when she discovered that Instagram pictures of her three children were turned into derogatory memes on another user’s account. When Ciara Logan tried to contact the user to take down the references insinuating that her son was a pimp and car salesman, she was blocked from viewing his profile. Unfortunately, Logan’s conscious choice to share a personal and treasured moment was her involuntary permission to be subjected to ignorance.


The meme gone wrong.

I am so glad there was no internet during my 8th grade year.

I had a jheri curl. Seriously… it was a drippy, juicy, curly, Michael Jackson-like curl. I remember desperately begging my mother for the curly coif in seventh grade. At first, she protested because she thought the style was too grown up. In the 80s, so many entertainers were making the curl look good: Ola Ray, Salt n Pepa, and Whitney Houston were only a few. Many of my friends were also rocking the hairstyle, so of course I had to have it. Besides, I felt that I was getting too old for barrettes and bangs. When my mother finally relented, it was the end of my seventh grade year. That summer I was the happiest middle school girl in all of Georgia as I sat in the salon chair getting my new do.


Ola Ray and Michael Jackson, my jheri curl inspiration. [photo courtesy of coupay.com]

Then we moved.

I transferred schools and met different friends, none of whom sported a curl. I was thrust from my top spot as an 8th grader in middle school to a lowly scrub in a new high school. I spent my sub-freshman year dreading that damn curl. It was difficult to escape the criticism and jokes. The activator dripped, collars were soiled, and pillows were filled with hair product. I was so greasy, that I had to laugh at myself on occasion.

The worst part is that my curly coif is forever memorialized in basketball, drama, and end of the year pictures. But I escaped the perpetual embarrassment when I entered 9th grade with a completely new do. If the internet were around, I am sure I would have seen my springy activated curls on several memes with some reference to the Jackson family or Soul Glo (for my Coming to America viewers)!

I am glad I was able to process that embarrassing moment without the rest of the world making a mockery of my crazy decision. It would have been difficult at 13 to see my face plastered on someone’s meme with a hurtful remark.

Inter-connectivity is no connectivity

You would think that as the world becomes smaller through inter-connectivity, there would more cohesiveness in establishing social media ground rules. Yet the multitude of iVoices joined by interactive strands, are more polarized than ever before. We often seek to be connected to information and accept being physically disconnected from each other. For some users, it is difficult to limit internet use. The diagnosis for a user’s inability to control or stop online behavior is called Compulsive Internet Use (CIU). Individuals experiencing CIU tend to lack face-to-face communication skills, which can lead to a socially anxious online demeanor. This anxiety can take several forms. On one hand readers are inundated with information. On the other hand, readers are fielding vitriolic and insensitive statements made by complete strangers who take cover behind an interactive identity, as in the case of Ciara Logan’s perpetrator.

As an active participant in the internet world, you enter at your own risk. If you want to avoid potential ridicule, then do what Ciara Logan did. She stopped sharing photos of her children and changed her account’s privacy settings. Otherwise, it’s best to grow some thick skin.




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