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Social Media as Social Justice

I haven’t posted in a while because it’s been “one of those weeks” – or more like two. I’ve been far too wrapped up in personal stuff to sit down and write or share a post, but I finally think that I’m ready to come back.

It seems irresponsible to have a media and culture blog and not comment on recent national tragedies, including the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and the shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge (let alone the atrocities in France, Turkey, and across the globe). But each time I try to sit down and write, nothing that I jot down precisely articulates my disappointment, my rage, and my anxiety. When I think deeply about the problems within my own community, some seem fixable while others feel inescapable. And if I begin to think of injustices on a global-scale, I’m immediately engulfed by discontent and pessimism. I prefer being open to the world’s innumerable flaws, rather than closeted by my own naivety, but at times I find myself overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problems that I want to fix. In many ways, it seems that my own anxiousness about the future (both micro and macro) is exacerbated by the omnipresence of news and information via social media.

While I’ve been somewhat overwhelmed these past few weeks by the sheer number of issues in my city, my country, my continent, and my world, I want to shift gears and discuss the great power that social media possesses. While I’m not planning on ever watching the videos of Alton Sterling or Philando Castile being brutalized by police (I recommend reading April Reign’s article, Why I will not share the video of Alton Sterling’s death), I am impressed by the power that technology has played in democratizing justice. Racism, police brutality, and violence directed at black Americans is a part of this country’s history; I’m unsure whether cases like the deaths of Sterling, Castile, Bland, Rice, Gray, and countless others are more common than before, or simply far more talked about. In the past, these stories could be swept under the rug, but in the age of social media, everything has changed. As citizens, we can now directly access information that would, in an earlier time, be guarded or altered before reaching us. We are not completely blinded by the system. While social media has its darkness, there’s light to be found too. We can share information as an organization of citizens who are fighting for a more just and equal world. And I have to believe that change is possible, otherwise, what’s the point? We can make a change for the better – as a country and as a world – and we will. Things will never be perfect, but they can be better.

And on that note, while that’s not all I have to say on this subject, it’s all I have to say for now.

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