Over the influence Why social media is toxic for women and girls - and how we can take it back

Kara Alaimo

Book - 2024

"In Over the Influence, communication professor and CNN Opinion contributor Kara Alaimo reveals how social media is affecting every aspect of the lives of women and girls--from our relationships and our parenting to our physical and mental well-being. Over the Influence is a book about what it means to live in the world social media has wrought--whether you're constantly connected or have deleted your accounts forever. Alaimo shows why you're likely to get fewer followers if you're a woman. She explains how fake news is crafted to prey on women's vulnerabilities. She reveals why so much of the content we find in our feeds is specifically designed to hold us back. And she explains how social media has made the offlin...e world an uglier place for women. But we can change this. Alaimo offers up brilliant advice for how to get over the influence--how to handle our daughters' use of social media, use dating apps to find the partners we're looking for, use social networks to bolster our careers, and protect ourselves from sextortionists, catfishers, and trolls. She also explains what we need to demand from lawmakers and tech companies. Over the Influence calls on women to recognize and call out the subtle (and not-so-subtle) sexism and misogyny we find online, reject misinformation that is targeted to us because of our gender, and use our platforms to empower ourselves and other women." --

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Informational works
New York : Alcove Press 2024.
Main Author
Kara Alaimo (author)
First edition
Physical Description
ix, 310 pages ; 22 cm
Includes bibliographic references (pages 237-299) and index.
  • Author's Note
  • Introduction
  • 1. Girl Meets Instagram
  • 2. The Face in the Filter
  • 3. Social Media and Women's "Perpetual State of Wrongness"
  • 4. Plenty of Catfish
  • 5. Sex Crimes and Murder in the Time of Social Media
  • 6. Digital Housewives
  • 7. Misinformation for Mommies
  • 8. How Anti-Vaxxers Target Women
  • 9. The Flounce
  • 10. Meta Misogyny
  • 11. The #Feminist Fallacy
  • Appendix: How to Be Savvy on Social Media
  • Resources
  • References
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index
Review by Booklist Review

College communication professor and journalist Alaimo makes a convincing case that social media has had a profoundly negative effect on the lives of women and girls, and that if we are to harness all the good it can potentially do, we need to demand change from tech companies, lawmakers, and ourselves as users. Extensive research and input from experts provide a thought-provoking journey through just about every aspect of the social media landscape, but the book is at its strongest when Alaimo shares the personal experiences of the diverse array of women and nonbinary people she interviewed for the book. Together, their stories provide a fascinating look at social media topics readers really care about, such as body image, the constant judgment of women, online dating, sexual violence and exploitation, the spread of misinformation, online abuse, and the challenges faced by women who work as social media managers and influencers. There are solutions here too, in the form of solid ideas to help transform social media into a force for good for women and girls.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Alaimo (Pitch, Tweet, or Engage on the Street), a professor of public relations at Hofstra University, offers an uneven overview of the state of online misogyny. Arguing that social media (a catchall she uses to mean people interacting online) has had seismic negative effects on female users, she surveys multiple well-trod examples, including the promotion of unrealistic body expectations by altered images and "sextortion"--the sexual blackmailing of girls by boys threatening to release nude photos. She also intriguingly ventures into less familiar ground, noting that women report having less satisfaction with online dating than men ("The majority of American women say dating is harder than it was ten years ago.... The majority of men disagree"), and that women are more susceptible to misinformation about health and wellness ("The vast, overwhelming majority of rank-and-file members are women"). But Alaimo's argument gets shaky as she attempts to encompass too many phenomena, such as in her defense of Karenesque meltdowns. "People have discovered they can make bank by secretly recording women's worst moments in public and selling the rights... so the whole world can come together to shame us," Alaimo writes, seeming to misunderstand that many such clips are likely staged. The result is an impassioned denunciation of the damage being done online to women and girls that lacks firm analytical footing. (Mar.)

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