The couple of years have been different as far as activism goes: namely, we’ve seen an increase in celebrity and influencer support for certain causes with social media used as the main tool to promote awareness. For example, Black Lives Matter was thrust into the media spotlight last summer as an inflection point was reached after several police shootings left a number of African Americans dead for no reason.
Breonna Taylor was asleep when she was shot and killed by police during a strange nighttime no-knock warrant. BLM opponents will say she wasn’t asleep, and while technically true — she was awake by the time the bullets started flying — that sort of misses the point, don’t you think? She was asleep when the door was broken down. She was killed seconds later.
This event and others just like it led to a day of “blackout” on social media to show support for the minority victims of police brutality and violence. Activism always used social media as a tool to gain more traction, but this — this was something new. This was bigger than it ever was before. Anyone following celebrities or popular influencers on Instagram will know what we mean. Awareness was being promoted everywhere. And even today, many influencers haven’t toned it down. They still want us to know everything that happens to minority victims on a daily basis.
Many have asked whether social media activism works. Should we keep up the fight using these tools? The quick answer is “yes.”
Social media might not gain the ear of everyone who sees, but the point is that almost everyone is forced to see. They can’t just turn it off their feed. Many people will share posts, many will donate to organizations that need the cash, while others will get out there for the next march or protest. The vast majority won’t. But does it even matter that most people won’t? What should matter is that more people are.
It’s true that those in medical fields have provided a great deal of support for activists during the mostly peaceful BLM protest last summer — and some of them realized first-hand that police brutality was a real problem. One story showed a medical station that had been set up to offer first aid and water to protesters, only for authorities to show up and destroy the supplies.
One of the most popular climate change activists is a teen named Greta Thunberg. She routinely makes a name for herself by attending big rallies and speaking in front of the part of the establishment that doesn’t believe it’s real or doesn’t want to invest the money into saving the world. But most of her supporters will recognize her from Instagram. And without Instagram, most of us might not even know her name.
So long as platforms like Instagram and Twitter exist, we should use them to spread the word. It’s the right thing to do — because educating the masses is more important that limiting the tools we use to inform others that wrongdoing is pervasive in our society.