It began with a meme. A single image that an Albany High junior saw as edgy, intended to court his friends’ dark sense of humor. Soon that meme was a private Instagram account. The content grew more offensive, more personal – racist and sexist, featuring images not of strangers but of other Albany students. Still private, but not for long. When the account is exposed, the small community is shaken to its core. Account victims are traumatized and angry; account followers grapple with the consequences of their choices. Protests follow, then news features, expulsions, legal actions. In telling this story, author Dashka Slater resists the lure of easy answers. Instead she presents a sensitive, nuanced look at both victims and followers that reveals the long-lasting impact of what happened without diminishing the harm caused. Though written for teens, this book is a riveting read for anyone interested in the role of social media in the lives of young people, an analysis that invites both discussion and reflection.
Reviewed by Mary Kinser, collection development librarian, Whatcom County Library System
(Originally published in Bellingham Alive January 2024 issue.)