Swinburne University of Technology: Helping young men accept rejection online

Being friendzoned, ghosted and negged online are realities of everyday life for most young people. Now, backed by Swinburne researchers, a new youth-led campaign has launched to help give young men practical tips and tools to deal with rejection and communicate respectfully online.

#CrushedButOkay is an Australian-first social media and advocacy campaign featuring content co-designed by the Alannah & Madeline Foundation, Swinburne researchers, and young people from schools, sporting clubs and gaming groups across Australia.

Professor Kath Albury from Swinburne University of Technology said the campaign was the outcome of 18 months of consultation with young people, researchers and leaders in the field of young men’s wellbeing.

“The evidence around online abuse makes it clear that there is no single solution to this complex problem, but the Swinburne team is proud to be part of this project that centres on young people’s experiences and takes a positive approach to online harm reduction,” Professor Albury said.

“The outcome is a set of innovative resources that help young men build practical skills to sustain ethical online relationships.”

For young people, by young people
Fourth-year student Lucas Karlson is studying a Bachelor of Business Innovation at Swinburne. As part of his Swinburne Professional degree, he worked full-time with the Alannah & Madeline Foundation for a year, helping to recruit participants and delivering the co-design workshops that formed the basis of #CrushedButOkay.

Lucas Karlson
Swinburne student Lucas Karlson helped bring a youth perspective to the #CrushedButOkay campaign. Image: supplied.

He feels confident that the final campaign will help move the needle on sexual harassment online, thanks to the many hours of volunteering and paid work done by young people on the project.

“No young person wants to sit down and read a handbook on how to behave,” he said.

“By listening to what young people said, we’ve created something that can make a real impact on young men.”

Lucas, who also works as a lifesaver and volunteer firefighter, says his work experience at the Alannah & Madeline Foundation helped him apply his passion for helping the community in his degree.

“The experience really put my business degree into perspective,” he said. “I can now really apply what I learned in my final year and into whatever comes next for me.”

Fresh perspectives on an old problem
The campaign features short reaction videos made by talented young influencers that are designed to get young men talking about ways to reframe and process common online scenarios of rejection.

Crushed But Okay Instagram
An image from the #CrushedButOkay campaign. Image: Alannah & Madeline Foundation.

Pat Schlesinger, 17 and a Year 12 student, was one of six young people who worked on the design and content of the campaign and program. Altogether, 133 young people participated in the co-design process.

Pat said he learned a lot from the process.

“I’ve always thought I’m pretty respectful online and in person but being part of this co-design and talking openly about rejection really made me think about things and reevaluate,” he said.

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