Vanderbilt senior sparks social media revolution

Larissa May’s own #HALFTHESTORY campaign is taking Tennessee by storm

Choose the right filter, edit the saturation, blur out the blemishes. Masking our humanity has become more than a trend in today’s society. Whether we like it our not, social media has swept up the world and younger generations so quickly we barely saw it happening.

This form of popular culture has now become an outlet for all of us to publicize our best of the best photos, craziest nights, and absurd trips. It gives us a chance to show the half of the story that we want everybody to see, but where is the room to express the reality and flaws of our identities?

That’s a question that Vanderbilt senior, Larissa May, has now begun to revolutionize. After recognizing the growing trends of social media through her own personal experiences, Larissa (better known as Larz), has created her own social movement #HALFTHESTORY.

The creative strategy, marketing, and communications major explained: “It is a human struggle that connects us.

“This weekend I Skyped with a girl in Paris, who is a huge supporter of the movement. I spoke French while talking about the #HALFTHESTORY movement. It is beyond incredible”.

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The #HalfTheStory team. Ashlin Dolan, Amanda Michaud and Larz

The campaign was initially launched at the end of October to encourage people to showcase the stories they wouldn’t typically share with hundreds of followers – and to say it has been successful would be an understatement.

With 1,400 followers, 753 Instagram posts from people around the world as well as a variety of partnerships, the social movement is exploding.

"Half the Story gave me a medium and outlet to share a part of me sometime isn't always asked about. It gave me a platform to share a story I don't always have the chance to share. Social media only shows half the story, and the #halfthestory movement gave me an opportunity and chance to share that other half" -Rebecca Chong '16

‘Half the Story gave me a medium and outlet to share a part of me sometime isn’t always asked about. It gave me a platform to share a story I don’t always have the chance to share. Social media only shows half the story, and the #halfthestory movement gave me an opportunity and chance to share that other half’ – Rebecca Chong ’16

So what exactly is this movement and why did it come into being?

According to Larz, “social storytelling” is an integral part of the digital boom that’s often misused.

She said:  “Social media was designed to share real news and information.

“However, due to the ‘like for like’ culture we have designed, we are pressured to present ‘curated’ lifestyles. I think that social media is one of the most powerful tools in modern culture, and our generation should take advantage of this opportunity to share passions to alleviate the pressures behind crafting a ‘perfect lifestyle’”.

Vanderbilt graduate Ryan Thomas hand stitched and designed this custom tee for Larz for #NYFW. His #HalfTheStory described his goal to be a designer

Vanderbilt graduate Ryan Thomas hand stitched and designed this custom tee for Larz for #NYFW. His #HalfTheStory described his goal to be a designer

Carly Rotter, Vanderbilt senior and President of Alpha Kappa Theta, contributed her #HALFTHESTORY to Larz’s campaign.

She said: “My life has followed a pretty routine plan. I have great friends, I get good grades, I went to college straight after high school, I make my parents proud and I hope to find career success in my life after college.

“For many Vanderbilt students, that means getting a high paying job in a competitive field, and I’ve been lucky enough to get that too. But despite my excitement for the next chapter in my life, my true passions are travel and history, and I’ve found that the two go hand in hand.

“I worry that I won’t be able to continue to make my parents proud, find success and follow the golden plan AND be able to learn everything I possibly can about the world. We’re young, we’re curious and we are all figuring it out. I’ve learned that no set plan can guarantee that I will ‘have it all together.’ I hope to take it all one day a time and find a way to combine all the things I want for myself. That’s my #HALFTHESTORY, what’s yours?”

Carly Rotter

Vanderbilt senior Carly Rotter

Larz has managed to create a virtual world that defies stereotypical social media norms. The movement has done more than create awareness, but it has also created a social media safe haven where judgement is left behind, realities are revealed, and lives are positively changed.

Art major Dara Sloan Piken also commented on social media as a double edged sword in her #HALFTHESTORY. 

The senior said: “Social media provides a mask to cover and once we break the line between the mask and what we show others, we finally are showing our true colors. What we provide on the Internet and what we show others is a gray area. We start to believe what we fake.

“Through my art I have always tried to establish the line between what we present to the world and who we really are.”

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“I’m not mad about flaunting my assets or posting something “pretty,” but I’m disappointed in myself for searching for your validation. Give me your presence, not your presents.” – Dara

We’ve covered the bases about what #HALFTHESTORY is and the power it is rapidly gathering to propel it forward. But the real question is what are the plans for the future and where is it headed? Larz already has that vision.

“I see #HALFTHESTORY evolving into a platform that connects individuals who have like minded ideas , thoughts , or projects. It’s a place to be open , share your passions , and ‘connect’ rather than ‘disconnect ‘”.

To Larz, the purpose of the social movement is meant to be more than just a social movement, and she plans to transform the movement into something much more – it’s own organization.

“Ultimately, I would like it to become a non-profit to fuel and find inventive ideas and become a ‘first person’ source of news and information to report on current events . It’s all about authenticity and telling real stories.”

There’s a vital step for the future, and despite the complexity we face with social media, Larz has the ability to illustrate the simplicity behind what is needed next. Her answer to the what the next step is seems straightforward yet exudes tenacity.

Vanderbilt graduate Ryan Thomas hand stitched and designed this custom tee for Larz for #NYFW. His #HalfTheStory described his goal to be a designer

Vanderbilt graduate Ryan Thomas hand stitched and designed this custom tee for Larz for #NYFW. His #HalfTheStory described his goal to be a designer

According to Larz, this year will be about, “spreading the word and getting the right people on board. We need the passion from the people”.

It’s not everyday that you come across a young, uniquely brilliant individual that is willing to attempt to transform social media from the inside out. Larz envisions a bright future ahead for the movement, and at the end of the day just wants to connect people, rally support, and drive change.

She says it best herself: “All in all, we want to change the way that people think about social media, aka what I like to call ‘social storytelling’. We have the power to inspire and drive change, so let’s use these channels for the right reasons”.

Nashville recording artist, Julia Cole, is a Vanderbilt student and very close friend of Larissa May’s. She commemorates and celebrates the movement with her newest song, #HalfTheStory (written by Julia Cole and Zack Dyer).

A YouTube video of her performing the song acoustically is being released simultaneously with this article.

 

Check out, learn, and share your #HALFTHESTORY by clicking following links:

Instagram: @HALFTHESTORY

Twitter: @HALFTHESTORY_

Facebook: Half the Story Project

Website: www.halfthestoryproject.com

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