–We live in the era of YouTube and Facebook and Livestream platforms, so enclosed in a virtual and digital world that is literally at the touch of our fingertips. Forget conversation, there’s text messaging and emoticons now in place of actual words and feelings. Landlines are essentially extinct…ask a kid these days what one is (a landline) and they’ll likely look at you like you’ve gone crazy. But ask them to show you their phone and they’ll pull out the latest generation iPhone. Ask them a few months from then and chances are, they’ll have upgraded to the newest generation with only a few new features added than what was on the previous generation…just miniscule upgrades that certainly aren’t worth the $700-ish price tag that comes with it. When it comes right down to it, it’s all about perception: the way we view ourselves, and more so, the way we’re perceived by others.
As embarrassing as it is to admit, our lives essentially revolve around Social Media—in so many ways. There’s the selfies and who has the best Instagram photos. There’s Twitter and the ridiculously addicting insanity, otherwise known as tweeting. The fact that we’re able to sum up all of our feelings or intent or activity in a mere 140 characters, never ceases to amaze me. And we can’t forget the hashtags. Oh, the hashtags.
And then there’s the #BlackLivesMatter movement. It’s literally impossible to use social media and not be bombarded with some Buzz feed or Huffington Post article, or a news clip or soundbite of a 911 recording, or even just a status update about it…especially these days. It really wasn’t until just a couple of years ago that I decided to get involved with the movement. The way it was then, with principles and what the movement truly stood for—is a far cry from what it is now. While I know it’s a good thing that the numbers of supporters have essentially skyrocketed since then—and in just a short time—I can’t help but feel like it’s turned into something else, something worse. There are people, like myself, that truly believe in what #BlackLivesMatter stands for and are actively trying to raise awareness and to bring about change. And then there are false prophets—individuals that are using the movement to justify crimes and riots and even murder. People who have no interest in fighting and protesting the cause using non-violent methods. People who are out for blood. Literally. Social media, in my opinion, has been used as a platform and backdrop for violence and vengeance on far more occasions than I wish to count. People are taking what the news and the media online as gospel, and blindly taking information as fact without bothering to check sources or finding evidence to support what they’re acting on. The media and the sensationalized “journalism” they produce and put out there on social media for millions of people to see and read—isn’t helping matters any. If anything, it’s only fueling the unrest and the rage. The truth has lost its value, it seems. No one cares that they’re being spoon-fed stories and half-truths. No one cares that the movement seems to have forgotten why it was begun in the first place.
Personally, it’s one of the reasons why I’ve drastically cut-back on how much time I spend on Social Media. I simply can’t deal with the horrible stories and videos and the pointing of fingers and casting blame. It’s the arguing though that really turns me off. That, and people jumping to conclusions or making assumptions based on absolutely nothing. When I look at people, I don’t see them as the sum of just their skin color. People are so much more than a color—a color, might I remind them, that was not of their choosing. That so many people have such a narrow-minded view of people is just unfortunate. Worse, every time I go on my social media lately, it seems like—that is, in a figurative sense–more and more people are segregating themselves into two groups: you’re either black or white. There’s no middle ground. You either support #BlackLivesMatter, or you don’t. And let’s not even mention the whole #AllLivesMatter argument. I’ve gotten in far too many heated discussions and virtual screaming matches over that whole matter, that it’s not even funny. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one in my circle who sees the ridiculousness in fighting over a hashtag. In fact, I think if I see one more HuffPost article on how if you’re white and you use the #AllLivesMatter hashtag, you’re basically offending the whole movement–one article even threw out the term “Accidental Racist”. And all because of a hashtag–four crisscrossing little lines that meant nothing until the imaginative minds behind Twitter swooped in and turned it into a global phenomenon. That said, to take such offense to something so superficial to the point where you’re throwing back accusations and making assumptions and judgments of others’ views, and questioning the validity of a person’s support, intentions, or their ability to empathize with the rampant injustices occurring on what is nearly getting to be a daily basis in this country.
I guess my point in choosing the relationship between Social Media and The BlackLivesMatter movement–and more specifically, the effect that each has on the other—is to address what has become a very personal matter to me—and that should be important to everyone. There’s so much misinformation out there—only adding to the already heightened tensions–that you literally have to watch everything you say or type. And that’s still no guarantee that your words will be safe from some virtual attack by someone that is just waiting and at-the-ready to pick the same old fight that you’ve already had half a dozen times already, with half a dozen different people.
While I’m only one voice, I’d still like to do what I can to right the wrongs and raise awareness, and I’m hopeful that this blog might help to do that, even in just a small manner. With research and a great deal of analysis and introspection, I hope to share as much knowledge and facts about the movement as I can. By demonstrating both the good and bad effects that Social Media and the Movement have had on one another, hopefully I can (through this blog) even the playing field a little bit, so to speak. At least, that’s the hope.– JR