Thursday, April 23, 2015

Vicarious Learning & #kyliejennerchallenge

Just when you think you have seen every stupid thing out there, something new comes along. The hash tag #kyliejennerchallenge has been trending on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I must be honest, out of curiosity I clicked it to see what was the buzz.

I have never heard of this "Kylie Jenner" and thought it was something to raise money like that ice bucket challenge-thing that was popular last year.  Well... after clicking it, I found  myself viewing selfies of people with bloated lips. Apparently, this "Jenner" character is known for her pouty lips. Someone on the internet decided to start some stupid thing of using shot glasses or bottles to make the lips swell.  They insert their lips into these objects and create a suction so strong that it causes trauma to the lips and swells them up.

Doctors are advising against this as it does cause damage to the lips. The pressure causes bruising,
tissue scarring and possibly cuts that may need stitches.  The "pouty" effect only lasts about a week. This challenge is being taken mostly by teenage girls, but some boys as well have joined in on the stupidity.

Why do people do these stupid things?

Vicarious Learning
This type of learning is also called Observational learning. Human beings learn via many means. One of those means is by mirroring the behavior they have experienced. Have you every wonder why sometimes you may start to sound or say things like your friend?  This is vicarious learning. It is part of how human beings learned to adapt to their environment.  Psychologist Alber Bandura provided evidence of this learning ability via his "Bobo doll" experiment. In this experiment, adults were told to beat the heck out of a doll while children watch in another room. The children were then left alone with the doll and within a few minutes, they too began to beat up the doll.   I am sure my CUNY psychology of learning professor, Vincent is probably using this in his class now as a discussion starter!

It is no wonder why the people taking this "challenge" with the lips are children or young people. They are extremely impressionable and taught from an early age to look up to authority figures. Since in today's world celebrities have an authoritative presence via their popularity, abilities and money, they are often imitated by people, especially young people. This can prove to be dangerous as some people can harm themselves and others.

In light of this, parents must instill in their children strong values and an appreciation for themselves.  Whoever started this challenge clearly has self-esteem issues.  He or she believes that having a certain form of lips is what is "sexy."  That is not true. To quote a phrase often used by religious African American women, "ya'll need Jesus."  How true are these words!?  The youth today need Jesus.  Only Jesus can help restore the image of God in these people who are damaging their lips just to imitate someone they look up to.  The only one we should look up to is God, no one else.  I applaud Jenner for taking to social media to condemn this challenge and remind people to be themselves and love the skin they are in.


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