Social media brings awareness to political issues

Is posting about social justice, equality just a trend?

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Caleb Casey

Demonstrators attended a Black Lives Matter event at the Bentonville Square on June 1.

On June 2, 2020 Instagram went dark. This Black Screen movement drew attention away from the everyday feed and pointed  instead towards the Black Lives Matter movement.

The death of George Floyd, by early June, was impossible to escape. Social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat were innundated with Generation Z pushing Social Justice and Equality to the forefront. But this social media movement didn’t just stop there. 

“I’ve always seen people post about different issues, but with the election year and social media being bigger than ever, we see way more activity when it comes to those types of posts,” Senior Class President Homero Ruiz said.

These platforms were not just used to spread opinions or news, but also to share information about upcoming protests, gofundme links, and ways the public could support local black-owned businesses. However there were some concerns when it came to sharing this information over the media.

On June 1, a Black Lives Matter demonstration was held on the Bentonville square, where everyone was invited to via social media. They were met with residents of other communities, specifically Harrison, Arkansas, with threats. The “demonstration” occurred nonetheless. After seeing so many media users reach out and show concern, negative comments surfaced against speaking out. Many began to say people are only posting to “fit in” or to “be trendy.” 

Opal Tometi reported in the New York Times, “I have minor trepidation, like most, this could end up being a trend.” Though it had the possibility to become a trend, more people have decided to speak up and make a change. 

“I think in the beginning a lot of people posted about things because it was a trend at the time, especially the black square post on Instagram,” junior Alonso Manon said, “but I think as videos came out and footage of the treatment of protesters came out too, more and more people started to actually become invested in the cause and want to help create change in our society and country.”

The most dangerous effects of social media are false information getting spread, leading people to blindly fight for any given issue. However educated the public may be, it is still important to acknowledge another point of view.

“For sure media is very influential. It can make something look good or bad. It’s all about different perspectives,”Ruiz said. “That’s why it’s important to stay out of echo chambers because being in one is dangerous but also these things don’t actually replace actual legislative changes.”

Now that an adequate amount of attention has been brought to these issues, questions arise regarding intention.  

“I believe we should continue to speak out because even though we are seeing change in things like inequality and systematic racism,” Manon said. “There are still many things we need to speak out about, problems to pressure out representatives to help lead and change our country for the better.”

Sophomore Lizzie Sol agrees.

“I think it’s crucial for us to continue to speak out,” she said. “Otherwise this whole movement could become another ‘trend’ rather than create the change we need to see. Stay active in politics by staying informed. Ignorance and complacency can be comfortable when certain things like racism don’t affect you. The truth is that politics affect everyone, everyday.”