Written by Emilia MacDonald, edited by Natalie Cowan
With the growth of social media and the expansion of the virtual world throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the astounding influence that social media has on socio-political movements and opinions must be recognized.
Social media provides a universal platform that has been vital to the survival and growth of social movements, such as the MeToo Movement and the Black Lives Matter movement. Of course, there are both positive and negative implications associated with the fact that anyone can use it as an outlet to share their perspectives. Yet, there is something incredibly beautiful in the communities that are formed on social media platforms, particularly through shared histories and life experiences.
But what does social media do? And why is it beneficial to people within the Black community? Social media provides a space for those in need of a community; for those who are in search of people with shared or similar life experiences. Social media can also create a space for those who want to stimulate social change, as with the Black Lives Matter hashtag that came out of the devastating fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2013. This hashtag was used as a way to express the anger, fear, and grief that was felt within the Black community, and as a way to push back against the disease that is police violence.
History was made after the video of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of the Minneapolis police went viral on a global scale. This led to the largest social movement in U.S. history. Since then, there has been an unprecedented rise in interest online for the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement. The result has been a 250% increase in the use of the BLM hashtag in media content from 2020 to 2021. The hashtag’s growth allowed the Black Lives Matter movement to not only take hold online, but also to become a major player in mainstream politics.
Through the use of internet platforms to create systemic change, the organization Black Lives Matter is leading the charge towards liberation and freedom for the Black community. This organization also contributes mass amounts of effort when it comes to advocating for change in policy. They are attempting to build a future that works toward the protection of members within the Black community.
What started as a social movement that fluctuated based on instances of police violence on Twitter, without gaining much momentum, has since developed into a massive, sustained global movement- in both social media and real life alike.
Though social media can display extreme moments of hate and violence, there is also hope that is taking the stage. For starters, the Black Lives Matter organization has received approximately $100 million in funding, with citizens all around the globe engaging with the movement through television, social media, and attending in-person demonstrations, including high numbers of youth from all backgrounds.
Social media has allowed the world to be far more interconnected than ever before. By giving members of diverse communities a platform, the rest of the global community gains exposure and insight into the lives of others – which stimulates empathy amongst groups of different backgrounds. In an interconnected world, it has become much easier to get involved with the social and political landscape that creates our world, and become invested in positive change.
As proven by the Black Lives Matter movement, social media can bring people with similar ideas and hopes together to create change within their environments. Afterall, a movement as big as BLM began with a simple hashtag that started this all: #BlackLivesMatter.
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