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Carter Reynolds and the Dark Side of Twitter

The social media obsession of today’s youth has created a vast network of teenage celebrities whose private lives are at the forefront of entertainment news. This can be a dark road for those who do not treat it with respect, as vine star, Carter Reynolds, has recently learned.

The social media obsession of today’s youth has created a vast network of teenage celebrities whose private lives are at the forefront of entertainment news. This can be a dark road for those who do not treat it with respect, as vine star, Carter Reynolds, has recently learned.

For those of you who have not been following the story, the 19 year old from the US came under attack following the release of a video from his phone after his iCloud account was illegally hacked. The video shows a scene between Carter and his girlfriend, Maggie (also a social media star), in which he seems to be forcing her to perform a sexual act on him. Unsurprisingly, the reaction on Twitter was immense, exacerbated by the fact that Maggie was only 16 at the time of that the video was filmed, meaning that Carter was at risk of committing statutory rape.

The events that followed became more and more dramatic: Carter tweeted of suicidal thoughts, and shortly after, Maggie sent snapchats from the hospital after what is thought to have been an overdose. The reactions of the pair seem to illustrate that their very public relationship was not a healthy one. Every detail of their relationship is posted on social media, particularly after their nasty break up. It is not just the couple contributing to the issues, but their combined followers of many millions, who inevitably encourage both Carter and Maggie to create more drama and post constant remarks on Twitter, which could be conceived as attention seeking.

To focus more upon the actual video itself, it is right for Carter to have been heavily criticised for his behaviour. Regardless of his high profile online, Carter should not have put pressure on his girlfriend, whom he supposedly loved, in such a way; but the fact that he has such a large following of young people means that he is a role model to many impressionable fans who look up to him. Although we would hope that people have more sense, it is likely that some of Reynolds’ die-hard fans believe in him and his actions no matter what, thereby normalising rape culture. In addition to this, Carter’s written ‘apology’ illustrates not only a lack of understanding of the severity of the situation, but also an attempt to play the victim. In this apology he states: “couples do stuff like that all the time”, do they? As far as I know, healthy relationships do not involve abusive sexual pressure. Thanks, Carter, for encouraging young men to think that this is how their underage girlfriends should be treated. After the initial wave of criticism began to flow from the opinionated masses of the internet, Carter’s response was to create his own hashtag, ‘#WeLoveYouCarter’, to counteract the hate and encourage his followers to fight back in support of him, which is yet another attempt to normalise his actions.

A great deal of bitterness was flying between the young couple and when Maggie sent pictures from hospital (the reason for her being there  is unknown, however deleted tweets state that it was due to an overdose), the battle deepened with accusations of not taking suicide seriously and using it as a tool for obtaining sympathy. So to add to the suggestions that sexual pressure among young couples is normal, the pair has now potentially encouraged their young fans to turn to suicide in the face of criticism. One young teenage girl with over 10 thousand followers tweeted a picture of herself crying with the caption: “CARTER PLEASE COME BACK IM CRYING IF YOU KILL YOURSELF I WILL TOO”. I really hope that this is not the response he was hoping for.

Essentially, the issue lies herein that two very young people have posted their entire lives online and are paying the price for it. Aside from the initial problem of sexual pressure – which is not right in any circumstances, famous or not – Carter and Maggie’s relationship will always be public, with millions of people in it with them, and that can never be healthy.

Written By Annabel Murphy – A Tender Volunteer

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