The Power of Social Media
by Masfi Khan
On July 17, in the midst of an online feud between Taylor Swift and the Kardashian/West family, Selena Gomez defended Swift by tweeting that people need to discuss important matters more often. Another user, @prasejeebus, quickly replied with a question about Gomez’s silence on the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality. In a since-deleted tweet, Selena Gomez responded with, “oh lol so that means if I hashtag something I save lives? No -I could give two [explicit word] about ‘sides.’ You don’t know what I do.”
Selena is right: hashtags don’t directly prevent the innocent from being killed. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t important-- they are an effective way to initiate conversations and shed light on important issues. Because of social media platforms, such as Instagram and Twitter, news is able to travel quickly and reach large audiences. This revolutionary technology is something that Selena Gomez, as the most followed person on Instagram, already knows.
Social media platforms give minorities an equal standing to present their views and have voices. For instance, when a St. Anthony police officer shot Philando Castile for reaching for his license, his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, live-streamed the incident on video on Facebook. In the video, she remained calm and explained the background of the shooting. Digital evidence has allowed Reynolds to display the truthful aftermath of the shooting, highlighting the dangers of police brutality against African-Americans.
Furthermore, people can connect to develop projects and cause change, no matter how big or small. A recent example of this is Christina Xu of New York crowdsourcing a letter directed at the Asian-American community entitled “Dear Mom, Dad, Uncle, Auntie: Black Lives Matter to Us, Too.” With the help of over 190 people across the world, the letter has been translated to multiple languages, including Chinese, Punjabi, and Bengali, to let its recipients read and understand the letter in their mother tongue. Because anti-Black sentiments are prominent in Asian-American communities, creating an online conversation on this issue can bring forward changes and form solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement from colored communities.
The power of social media should never be undermined. It is essential in connecting voices and producing movements that let everyone participate in conversations. This is the modern age’s first step to implementing change, and we shouldn’t take it for granted.