Deep Thoughts: Socality Barbie is a Mean Girl

If you have Instagram and follow any outdoorsy accounts, you’ve probably heard about Socality Barbie. Socality Barbie is a parody account, satirizing the hipster Christian community Socality for being inauthentic and taking lots of the same photos of waterfalls, trendy coffee shops on rainy days and people standing outside with blankets in absurd outdoor locations.

kinda like this, except we didn’t have a blanket.

Socality Barbie makes some excellent points. She is an incredibly creative idea, and her account is perfectly curated for the purpose of calling out those who are “inauthentically” posting all the same photos in all the same places. It’s true that some images are pretty ubiquitous within the Instagram platform. If you haven’t seen a photo of someone wrapped in a blanket on a beach or drinking coffee out of a battered mug at a waterfall… well, you probably don’t have Instagram.

At first I thought Socality Barbie was funny. But then I thought: Isn’t this a lot of effort to make fun of people?

Before Socality Barbie, I didn’t know what Socality was. I did some research. From what I gather, Socality is a Christian community trying to build relationships through social media to spread their message of love and Jesus. I’m definitely not trying to be a part of their community for all eternity. But I’m not trying to actively make fun of them either.

Socality Barbie is doing a great job at being a joke. But is it a harmful joke? The creator of Socality Barbie is obviously brilliantly creative, intelligent and receptive. If you have that much passion and talent, be funny in a way that doesn’t deprecate someone else. The Socality community is not harming anybody with their posts. If you don’t like it, don’t follow them. If what they are doing bothers you, that’s a reflection on YOU, not them. Socality Barbie is mocking a group of individuals trying to find strength in community, their faith, and redundant folky images (I guess). Why does it matter? Maybe you find strength in burritos. That’s also fine, and doesn’t deserve to be criticized by someone else, because it’s YOUR decision.

looking for burritos.

The world doesn’t need more people who are funny at the expense of someone else. We’re not learning that way. We’re not growing.

When we participate in stuff like this, kids see that this is okay to do. This says “it’s okay to publicly shame a group of people.” This is the same way that cyber bullying is done in schools. Yes, there’s irony in Socality Barbie. Yes, there may be some truth to it. But spending this much time and effort to call out a group of people just trying to do what they feel is right, frankly sends a message that it’s alright (and even celebrated) to make fun of people.

“But Erin, you’re taking the time to criticize Socality Barbie. Why do YOU care so much?”

I care so much because I think this is a greater comment on how our society reacts to things that mildly bug us. We do it with bullying. We disguise it in humor. I am trying to be supportive of people expressing themselves in any way they want to. I don’t care how they do it if it’s not hurting anybody. Socality Barbie is hurting somebody, and that matters. She has a growing following of almost one million people. If her humor was directed at one individual, it would easily be considered bullying.

I’m asking for a little bit of reflection on something that owes its success to criticizing the behavior of others. I agree that we shouldn’t take social media too seriously. It’s healthy to laugh at ourselves. But it’s worth it to look a little deeper.

Do you agree? Do you think I need to chill cuz it’s the internet? Let me know in the comments!

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  • Reply
    September 8, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    Parody =/= bullying.

    The entire point of Socality Barbie is to parody the photos posted by a group of people; not a person. As was mentioned above, the genius of this account (whether you agree with it or not) is in the details. Clearly the person behind Socailty Barbie knows and understands the hipster outdoor movement. They are, yes, dabbling in stereotypes, but in doing so they’re raising questions about all accounts with hipster outdoor leanings.

    While I do want to protect people and groups from unwarranted attacks, I feel that this is an example of so-called “political correctness” going too far and instead throttling legitimate criticism, parody, and discussion.

    • Erin
      September 11, 2015 at 9:08 am

      Thanks for the comment Beth! I feel like we hashed this out real good on the thread, but just gonna comment here for consistency. Legitimate criticism, parody and discussion are extremely important in any industry and help us improve what we’re doing (as professionals, people, whatever), and I don’t think getting SO uptight about things as to derail or throttle them is helpful. However, I do wonder why the obviously creative, receptive and intelligent creator of Socality Barbie chose to affiliate herself with a very specific group by using their name, when she could have gone after something more general with the same effect.

  • Reply
    September 10, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    I’m going to go ahead and admit that I follow a lot of those hipster outdoorsy Instagram accounts … and that I also love Socality Barbie.

    I get what you’re saying about having fun at other people’s expense but I just don’t see this as bullying. To me this seems like lightheartedly poking fun at a genre of photos that ARE pretty easy to parody. We should all be able to laugh at ourselves. 🙂

    • Erin
      September 11, 2015 at 9:11 am

      Great point, Jen! 🙂 I think the account is successful in a lot of ways. I do wish it didn’t use the name of a specific group. What’s important is that we consider stuff like this… even if we conclude that it’s not harmful. Thank you for reading!

  • Reply
    September 11, 2015 at 10:50 pm

    If it didn’t seem like such a direct attack on socality.. it’d be hilarious. But because it’s a bit too direct I think it fringes on nasty.

    • Erin Sullivan
      Erin Sullivan
      September 13, 2015 at 12:12 pm

      Yeah that’s where I am at with it too. Still such a creative idea. I’m curious what will be next in terms of parodying other communities (like foodie people) on Instagram. Thanks for the comment, Holly! 🙂

  • Reply
    October 22, 2015 at 11:57 am

    Great post, Erin. This theme reminded of an Avett Brothers’ song – Ten Thousand Words. Here’s my favorite verse from that song:

    And everyone around me shakes their head in disbelief
    And says I’m too caught up
    They say young is good and old is fine
    And truth is cool but all that matters
    Is that you have your good times
    But their good times come with prices
    And I can’t believe it when I hear the jokes they make
    At anyone’s expense except their own
    Would they laugh if they knew who paid?

    Ain’t it like most people? I’m no different
    We love to talk on things we don’t know about

    I hope you find some truth in their lyrics like I did; and if not, that’s fine too!

  • Reply
    October 31, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    I cannot tell you how happy I am that someone else (that also frequents the outdoors) feels the same way that I do. I too, also found the account to be funny in an ironic way but also think it is a form of shaming and bullying those who do those things as a part of our real and authentic life. I think the account has encouraged others who harbor jealousy to mock, put down and look down upon those who are avid hikers and take pictures. But, on the flip side…. There’s someone walking around with a Barbie putting in a lot of effort to make fun of people. So who’s the real ‘poser’ in all of this. Ha. Enough said 🙂

    • Erin Sullivan
      Erin Sullivan
      November 2, 2015 at 4:11 pm

      Thanks Nicole! I totally agree! It’s also so funny to me how quickly these things come in and out. Doubt anybody really cares about what the account is doing just a month later!

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