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#MeToo: How social media is a great release for pent up emotions

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The news of Harvey Weinstein’s expulsion from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences over the weekend prompted victims to share their own experiences of sexual harassment and assault.

The rich and famous of course can talk to the press, but what happens to the masses who are often never heard? Today they have an outlet in social media. In fact platforms like Facebook and Twitter have been flooded with women relating their own private experiences with sexual harassment thus far never expressed even to some of their dear ones.For the women in these stories, the mental anguish is real. The endurance of going into an office where someone constantly makes overt sexual references is hard to explain to those who have never experienced it. A 2015 study found that one in three women have been sexually harassed and that 71 percent did not report it. That’s a staggering statistic. And yet for many, speaking about their troubles was not easy until now. But thanks to the age of social media, there has been an outpouring of emotion, following the complicity of Harvery Weinstein.

Thousands of women have shared stories of sexual harassment online using the #MeToo hashtag and hundreds of men are vowing to help using a hashtag of their own.

The #HowIWillChange hashtag was kicked off, with Sydney-based writer Benjamin Law calling for men to share how they will help tackle the culture of sexual harassment.

When Facebook removed positive posts from the news feeds of more than 680,000 users, those users made fewer positive posts and more negative ones. Similarly, when negative posts were removed, the opposite occurred.

The findings provide experimental evidence that emotions can be contagious, even without direct interaction or non-verbal cues, the researchers say.

“These results indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions,” the authors wrote in the study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Tarana Burke, 44, says that she created the #MeToo movement in 2007 to let young women of color who survive sexual assault know that they are not alone. “It wasn’t built to be a viral campaign or a hashtag that is here today and forgotten tomorrow,” Burke told Ebony in a recent interview. “It was a catchphrase to be used from survivor to survivor to let folks know that they were not alone and that a movement for radical healing was happening and possible.”

It has worked. Millions of women around the world have been expressing themselves and there has been an outpouring of painful recollections on Twitter and Facebook which have shed new light on how pervasive the problem really is.

Social Media hopefully has helped in some small way in therapeutically healing the millions of women who couldn’t express themselves thus far.


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