The Hidden Ignorance Behind “Cyber Ghetto”
On the social media platform TikTok, there has been a great increase of young individuals trying to discover themselves and what they like. One of the most popular ways teens have been doing this is through aesthetics and subcultures, a distinct theme that or group of people who follow certain ideas and customs that differ from the rest of society. Examples are: cottagecore, dark academia, and gothcore. During the quarantine, the skater aesthetic, cybercore, and Y2K have become popularized on TikTok. However, within cybercore, there is another subculture within it: cyber ghetto.
Cyber ghetto is an aesthetic within cyberspace for marginalized groups to feel comfortable, originating in the 2010s. A black teenage girl popularized the word on Tumblr, initially meant to be a welcoming space for marginalized groups. The subculture is supposed to
be a combination of cyber core and streetwear with gothic and dark elements as well.
However, recently on Tiktok, Instagram, and Pinterest cyber ghetto has been used to describe the streetwear and y2k aesthetic for women of color, specifically black women. Small black creators complained about the use of the term and asked not to be associated with it. A specific creator, Elesia Cimone, known on TikTok as 4cimone, made her frustration clear with the term, explaining how the word “ghetto” has been used against marginalized communities negatively and should not be the word used to describe this aesthetic.
Others clapped back against Cimone. stating that because the original creator of the term, “cyber ghetto” was a Black woman, that there is no negative implication. In spite of people’s arguments, Cimone still asked her followers and fans to not tie her to the term.
After Cimone spoke out, other black women on TikTok took a stand against the term and how its meaning was being changed negatively. They questioned why black women and women of color must be separated from white women when it comes to Y2K, streetwear, and cyber core when they are both the same aesthetics and subcultures. Their claims and arguments were once again shut down for being dramatic and unnecessary, being that the term was not considered offensive toward black women and women of color. Fans and TikTok creators questioned if this topic being glossed over is affecting people’s reactions towards the term, “cyber ghetto” and if they do not realize how ignorant it is and the racism behind it.
The questions at the end of the day are: Is this term actually ignorant? Does its initial connotation still stand today? In order for these questions to be answered, there needs to be more discussions on the term “cyber ghetto” and its meaning.