[There was a video here]
Last night, Anderson Cooper spent an hour embarrassing eight 13-year-olds on national television. First in front of each other, and then in front of their parents. Regardless of whatever insight we were supposed to have gleaned from a bunch of pubescent tweeters, at the end of the night, there was really only one takeaway: Anderson Cooper is a narc.
We signed up hundreds of eighth graders at eight different schools across the country. They’re from cities, suburbs, and small towns, and they gave our team of experts access to their social media feeds in real time. With the permission of their parents and their schools, teens registered their Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts through a secure private server that stored everything they posted over six months.
Ultimately, CNNs team of “experts” ended up with 150,00 garbage posts—150,000 bits of hormones-spewed forth from underdeveloped minds, all measured, dissected, and analyzed by people who probably imagined their lives would amount to something more than hours spent poring over the words “u dirty bitch u dirty bitch u dirty bitch.”
The general conclusion of the segment seemed to be: Kids love social media because they are neurotic, insecure, and deeply uncomfortable tangles of hormones and thumbs that exist for the sole purpose of destroying one another. Which, to Cooper’s credit, is probably true.
But then it was time to put Jonathan on blast—poor, sweet, foul-mouthed Jonathan who merely wanted someone to let him hit. Instead, Anderson Cooper hit Jonathan, over and over and over again. Right before reading an Instagram comment out loud to one girl, telling her she has “fat thighs and no booty” as well as “holy shit you’re ugly.”
“You cried,” Anderson then instructs her.
The 13-year-old girl sits quietly, staring.
So, why do teens love social media? As Jonathan says at one point in the night, “You can just go on and do whatever you want.” Except, not really, Jonathan. Not while Anderson Cooper is watching.