With 395,000 followers on Twitter and 2.7 million followers on Instagram, Cierra Ramirez is no stranger to the world of social media. Cierra spoke to People CHICA about its impact on our society and how she utilizes her online platform.
Cierra Ramirez via Instagram
Credit: Cierra Ramirez via Instagram

On Freeform's Good Trouble, a spin-off of The Fosters, Cierra Ramirez plays Mariana Adams Foster, one of two young women characters trying to navigate their way through the Los Angeles life as they take their first steps into “adulting.” Speaking to younger millennials and older gen-Zers, the show depicts the emotional roller coaster that comes with the challenges of upward urban mobility — debt, fierce competition, media-enhanced FOMO. (It's nice to know we're not the only ones stumbling through our early twenties.)

Case in point: Mariana struggles to adapt to a job at a tech startup in an office run by (mostly white) men. In the second episode, she invites her coworkers to a party at her communal living area, but they all decline. After complaining about the situation to one of her housemates and sharing a few drinks, they go online to social-media stalk her coworkers. Mariana's drunken housemate takes over her Instagram Live account and goes on a rant, calling her boss an “asshole.” Mariana quickly cuts her off, but it's too late. Of course, he was watching online.

While this is a light-hearted look at the perils of live streaming under the influence, social media has come under intense scrutiny as of late. And the danger isn't just coming from Kremlin hackers trying to foment division and extremism in America, or the many frightening revelations around Facebook. In 2016, the University of Pittsburgh conducted a study on the impact of social media on the upcoming generation, and the results revealed that fervent users of social media were at a higher risk for depression.

And yet sharing platforms are here to stay. We had several reasons for bugging Cierra Ramirez about social media when we got a chance to speak with her. First, the actor and singer, who turns 24 on March 9, is an avid Instagram user with a 2.7 million following (395K followers on Twitter!), thus she has the power to sway the online world. It's an urge she resists. “I'm very aware of what I post, especially being on a show that is so topical. I like to stray very far from politics in general just because everyone's entitled to their own opinion. But yeah, someone's always going to say something and I just try to stay just as neutral as possible.”

Indeed, the Texas native's Instagram is nothing shocking. It seems curated to blend a regular-girl appeal, promotions for projects and a just-sexy-enough edge that any publicist would be happy with.

Here she is relatable — she eats burgers, tots and shakes — and has close girlfriends:

Here she promotes her music with a sexy-but-not-too-sexy pinup image:

Here she is sun-kissed and, presumably, an awesome sister to Savannah.

Cierra, 23, doesn't have to worry about addressing polarizing social issues with her IG feeds. As she notes, Good Trouble takes on headline topics such as police brutality (Black Lives Matter) and sexism in the workplace (#MeToo), which both Mariana and her sister Callie (Maia Mitchell) deal with in the first episode. The show is perhaps at its most overtly political in the fourth episode, when Lena (Sherri Saum) considers dropping out of democratic primary race for state assembly. Party leaders want someone not so progressive, meaning a black lesbian, and more centrist, meaning a white male, to run. Not only that, Lena is spit on by a racist white guy while campaigning and there's a serious reference to Elizabeth Eckford, one of the Little Rock Nine. “We don't need politicians who play it safe in the middle; we need someone to fight for what's right,” another character chimes in. Good Trouble might be one-part Melrose Place (look it up!), but it isn't afraid to take sides on important issues to POCs.

Portrait of the actor as a photographer

But Cierra has another Instagram account we're interested in, @fineillgoout, dedicated to a certain old-school, non-digital art form. She ditched the perfectly posed pictures for a more in-the-moment experience The thing I love about disposables is that you really just get one shot. Like you take the picture, you can't look back at it and be like, “Oh, no take another one. Let me edit this.”

While she refers to it as a hobby, “Fine I'll go out” can be seen as Cierra's addressing of social media's ills in a clever way. It is an appreciation of authenticity and art that questions the curated reality of the digital world, especially that of actors who must meticulously manufacture their image. Her account reminds people that to go out and find a new way to look at things.

“No, you get one shot. I really love that idea,” Cierra says. “It's always such a gamble and exciting to see what ends up on that roll of film.”

It's important to remember that social media connects and empowers people, allowing them to stay in contact with long-distance friends and family and share their passions with the world. As Cierra notes, it allows us to bypass the gatekeepers, and “it really gives a voice to people who wouldn't necessarily have one.”

Another crucial benefit, it acts as a multiplier for activism: “It helps us get our news faster. I really have high hopes and expectations and I'm really excited about this next generation because of what they're doing. [For example, with] the school shooting in Florida, I really saw the students all come together and how it spread fast like wildfire,” the actor tells CHICA. “That showed how much they could really make a difference just through social media.”

The march of technology is also not something we can avoid, so we might as well embrace how connecting has become cheaper and easier. “We're, like, always on our phones and on the Internet. But I think about it and I'm like, “Oh my God, there used to be a time where on my phone I would accidentally press the Safari and exit out super fast because I don't want to get charged!” Imagine if she ever had to experience dial up.