Lojuanda Weary/The Lion's Roar
Before March, scrolling through Instagram meant seeing familiar faces having fun with their loved ones. It was creating silly dances and skits on TikTok, retweeting and liking light-hearted memes that we forgot 10 seconds later.
Everything was fun and games until the world had a reality check.
When the coronavirus became predominant in our lives, something that was not as harmless as we brushed it off as, the entertaining content on social media came to a halt, and the severity around the world prevailed.
Not long after the first few cases in the United States., all social media platforms had turned into independent news outlets. The circulation of information on how to prevent spreading COVID-19 was posted every day, everywhere.
In addition to informing others during a pandemic, social media now also plays an impactful role in civil rights activism.
In the past, people called for action through newspapers and flyers, but now the latest and most effective way to communicate with the public is through social media.
The power of social media was truly shown on May 25 when a 46-year-old Black man named George Floyd was murdered by Derek Chauvin, a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Bystanders who witnessed Floyd’s death by the police officer’s misconduct were able to record the incident and broadcast it for the world to see. It took one person’s post on social media for everyone to be outraged by police brutality and discrimination.
Within the next few days, there were protests in streets, riots and people becoming more educated on the Black Lives Matter movement. It took one post for so many others who have fallen victim to wrongful deaths and crimes to be recognized, and people urged for justice.
Influencers who normally posted what breakfast they were having for the day or what new pair of shoes they purchased took a stand and stopped their content for a full week of silence and reflection. This was done to not distract followers from the real-life problems others were facing around each other.
Another Instagram movement was #BlackoutTuesday, where instead of posting mindless content on the app, users honored and remembered George Floyd by simply posting a black screen.
I remember waking up that Tuesday morning by starting my routine of checking Instagram, and I was initially taken back by what I saw. After scrolling down my feed for several minutes, there was not a single picture of anyone else’s face or normal day of life. At first, I had thought there was a glitch to my app, but then I realized that all of these people were coming together to support a specific cause.
Some would say it is a modern-day revolution.
Petitions have also gained popularity through social media, with hundreds for people to sign and stay involved across several platforms. Almost every tweet I have seen on Twitter has had some kind of petition linked with different causes for people to sign their support.
These petitions help give others in the nation, and all around the world, an opportunity to make effective change.
On Facebook, we are able to view more footage of brutality, as well as the impact the world has been making by participating in marches and protests. I would have never known people in Europe were also actively making a difference in the Black Lives Matter movement if not for seeing the live videos of the protests.
There is so much activism that can be done through social media.
People can educate themselves and others by sharing powerful pictures and words on their posts or resharing significantly important content. People can also contribute through YouTube by sharing their own personal experiences and opinions to bring awareness to others.
In a world with so many people, social media helps connect individuals that want to better the lives of others and gives a voice to those who are silenced or oppressed.
Help spread awareness to others one click at a time.