Me, My Selfie and I: Shelley Mulshine

Me, My Selfie and I: Shelley Mulshine

Me, My Selfie and I: Shelley Mulshine

Internet phenomenon Shelley Mulshine talks social media in the age of #metoo.

Internet phenomenon Shelley Mulshine talks social media in the age of #metoo.

Text: MATHIAS ROSENZWEIG

Writer Rollo May once famously said: "Communication leads to community." In recent months, we've seen social media's increasing ability to connect disparate, often voiceless individuals manifesting into full-blown social movements, with items like #metoo flooding our screens daily. People are sharing their IRL experiences with the digital realm in an unprecedented way, transforming isolated incidences into worldwide movements, retweeted or shared by millions.

But while social media may be more popular than ever, undoubtedly kickstarting an ongoing revolution, the concept of an online community is nothing new. Content creator Shelley Mulshine knows this better than most, having started one of Sweden's most popular blogs in 2009, now translated into a Facebook page with half a million followers. We spoke to the veteran Internet pro about how things have really changed over the past couple of years, touching on everything from fighting trolls to using social media as a weapon (when needed).

When did you first start promoting yourself on social media? What drew you to it?

I started promoting myself on what we today refer to as social media in 2009 when I created my Facebook fan page, but long before that I was using my blog and MySpace and other ”internet communities” in basically the same way, as self-promotional channels.

Was cyberbullying as present in your early blogging days as it is now? 

I think cyberbullying in general has probably increased or stayed on the same level since then, but for me personally I experience way less of it today than I did in my early blogging days. I think it was more present in my life back then partly because I was younger, still in my teens, and so were most of my followers. Now both my followers and I are in our twenties and, you know, adults have real life stuff to do and don’t have as much time for bullshit. Another reason was probably because I used to be way more transparent in my posts, like write about my problems and feelings and relationships, I rarely do that anymore. It makes you vulnerable.

What type of person do you think tends to cyberbully? 

I get mean comments from people all ages and genders, but a lot of the pages and accounts are either anonymous or private and you can’t see them, so it’s often hard to know who’s writing.

What’s the best way to fight back when people are harassing someone on social media? 

Never feed the trolls! Just delete the comments and block the account. But if it’s on a serious level, like a group of people constantly harassing you online and creating new accounts, you should go to the police, or a teacher or parent if you’re still young and in school.

When you’re taking images of yourself, are you very conscious of what others might think? Has this changed overtime?

No, not really. I like messing a little with my followers. About a year and a half ago when I was skinny dipping with a friend at their secluded lake house, I posted a photo of myself nude in the woods and wrote in the caption that I was at a nudist resort, which I obviously wasn’t, and I still get frequent emails and DMs from nudists wanting to know which resort it was or recommending me their favorite nudist spots. It doesn’t really matter what people online think of me. People are always going to have prejudices about you anyway. I think I paint a pretty silly picture of myself online sometimes, but it’s all for fun.

How are social media platforms monitoring hateful comments? Do you think they should be doing more? 

There are word filters on Facebook and Instagram that you can adjust however you like and there’s a report system. I don’t think there’s much more they can do honestly.

Can you talk about the relationship between #metoo and social media, where the conversation really exploded? 

I think the #metoo movement really demonstrates the power of social media and how minorities and oppressed groups, in this case women and non-binary individuals, finally have a channel to speak out. I was reading an article about the movie Get Out and how the main character, who is a person of color, uses his cellphone flash as a ”weapon” against the white men who are attacking him. It symbolizes the fact that the camera in our smartphones has become one of the most important forms of protection black people have against police brutality, because the videos are going viral. I feel like it’s sort of the same thing. 

What are your tips for the perfect selfie?

Know your best angles, always find good lighting and get creative with props and setting. No one wants to see the same selfie over and over again.

Paris Hilton recently claimed that she helped invent the selfie. Is she right?

Isn’t a selfie just a self-portrait? I’m sure people have been taking self portraits since the first camera was invented. I don’t think she invented the selfie, but I do think she had a big influence on our self-obsessed generation and might have helped shape the selfie culture we see today. 

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