Social Media plays an integral part in a teenager’s day-to-day life and has proven to be even more essential amidst a pandemic. It’s no surprise that approximately 73% of Generation Z use social media actively. It is one of the most powerful resources available, it gives near instant access to information, at the touch of a finger. Many of these users have been using their platforms for good causes, like spreading awareness on issues that they are passionate about. This includes sharing information, petitions, as well as organizing events like protests. Petitions and organizing events are two great ways to take a stand and this generation has done just that, specifically with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Following the murder of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement gained more traction with people showing their support all over the world. The Civis Analytics suggests that approximately “15 million to 26 million people in the United States have participated in demonstrations over the death of George Floyd.” These protests have received nationwide attention, much of which has been due to social media. In 2016, Twitter celebrated their ten year anniversary and released the ranking of most used hashtags, directly correlating to social causes. The two most used hashtags were “Ferguson” and “Black Lives Matter”, both of which were related to the BLM cause. Additionally, the Black Lives Matter hashtag recent had another surge and was used “roughly 47.8 million times” from May 26 to June 7 according to PEW.
The media’s job is to cover the news but sometimes they don’t disclose certain information. Since the media can withhold some important facts of key issues, social media pages and users are posting them with the intent of spreading awareness and educating others. This can be dangerous and sometimes lead to the spread of false information. The perfect example is the Black Lives Matter protests. Tons of false ideals were given of the purpose of the movement and on what was happening during the protests. The media can also tend to cover up information, when it comes to countries that have somewhat corrupt governments or dictatorships. There are many countries that try to cover up their scandals and when an American media source speaks about it, it can hurt their foreign affairs. However, when petitions are signed and calls are made to government offices, it usually puts public pressure on the elected officials to speak out and even make changes.
One of these issues is the crisis in Yemen. In June, images of malnourished, starved, children in Yemen surfaced. Yemen, generally a poor country has faced drastic impacts on their economy and country because of Covid-19 and their recent war. UNICEF, who was originally aiding them with the delivery of water, could no longer be of assistance. Due to the recognition, these shared posts have received more attention and have allowed UNICEF and similar organizations to help Yemen get the funding and help they need.
Using social media in a smart and responsible manner can go a long way. It is extremely important to continue supporting through sharing posts or protesting, it is also just as important to understand performative activism. Performative activism refers to posting a photo online solely for the purpose of gaining attention, instead of with the intent to do good for the community. Posting educational resources, links to petitions, and event information are great uses of a platform. However, it is not nearly enough to repost, it is vital to make active efforts of change by signing petitions and making calls to those in power in order to achieve a difference. Social media is one of our largests tools available for us and many others to use. However, it is in our hearts and passion to make sure we use our platforms to make a difference because we are the future and what we do today will impact the rest of our lives.
“Public Opinion Data on Black Lives Matter Police Reform.” CIVIS, 19 June 2020, 29aww93vfjsz432bcn2d6lz2-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Public_Opinion_Data_BLM_CombinedCrosstabs_ALL.pdf. Accessed 17 July 2020.
“Why Do Different Generations Use Social Media?” Marketing Charts, www.marketingcharts.com/digital/social-media-110652#:~:text=The%20research%20found%20that%20nearly,%25)%20and%20Boomers%20(61%25). Accessed 18 July 2020.