It seems perfectly natural that we value others' opinions of us. People seek feedback. Post a picture, make a comment, "like" us. In this world where everything seems instantly shareable or share-worthy, it is hard to know what to keep to ourselves. A troubling new trend making its way around YouTube has many people begging the question: "Are we obsessed with others' opinions of us?" A search of the phrase "Am I Ugly" on YouTube yields dozens of videos of young girls asking the anonymous, and notoriously judgmental, YouTube community to judge how they look.
Many of the videos have thousands of comments, which range from the nice end of the spectrum with encouraging words, all the way to the extremely cruel with comments that need not be repeated. In one of the more polite comments, someone tells a girl that she is pretty and that she should just focus on doing her homework. Some people suggest that the girls are just fishing for compliments or wanting attention from anyone who is willing to give it.
Trending Now spoke to New York-based child psychiatrist Francisco Gonzalez-Franco, who told us that on a basic level, the videos are "a masochistic way to diminish their anxiety." Gonzalez-Franco adds that the girls feel incomplete, and they want people to confirm their fear that they are ugly. If people confirm it, even though they may be strangers, the girls may stop seeking that confirmation, he said. Gonzelez-Franco does insist that the girls should seek help from friends or family instead. He said the last place girls should be looking for validation is from YouTube commenters.
This is not the first open forum in which girls have asked strangers for feedback on themselves. Popular website Formspring welcomes anonymous replies to open questions that people ask. The topics usually end with similar results as the disturbing "Am I Ugly" trend. Unfortunately, people make cruel comments knowing they may never be identified. Some people believe this is taking cyberbullying to a new level, and could have tragic consequences.
For our next story, a young woman who thrived on the basketball court came down with a potentially fatal illness and fell into a coma. Maggie Meier, a high school hoops star from Kansas, contracted bacterial meningitis in 2008. After suffering a seizure and being admitted to the hospital, Meier became comatose for almost three months. What happened next startled doctors, nurses, and Meier's family. To make sure her limbs did not become stiff from not being used, Meier was moved every two to three hours.
One day while she was seated in a wheelchair, her family placed a basketball in her hands. Meier's reflexes kicked in, and she began shooting hoops from the seated position. Meier's neurologist explained the phenomenon, saying that shooting the ball must have been ingrained as one of her basic instincts. When Meier awakened from the coma, she had to relearn how to walk, read, and speak. Perhaps the best miracle, after almost four years of intensive therapy, Maggie returned to the basketball court this past Monday night.