Social Media and Social Change 

In the midst of the global COVID19 pandemic, citizens everywhere have turned to social media to connect with people virtually, while in-person contact is not permitted. As the Black Lives Matter movement has taken off after recent events, Black Lives Matters has become a prominent topic on social media platforms. Social media is a powerful tool that facilitates the spread of information and unites people from all around the world. In recent months, the Black Lives Matter movement has gained enormous support, specifically due to its presence on social media platforms. Social media has greatly benefitted the furtherance of the Black Lives Matter movement; however, it’s important to remember that social change requires more than hitting a like button.  

Power of Social Media 

When it comes to social change, social media is an efficient way to spread information and promote one’s cause. Social media allows individuals to spread information to greater populations at rapid rates. Social media also gives everyone a voice, and its inclusivity provides everyone with an opportunity to become involved in a movement. Collaboration is a key benefit of society’s use of social media, especially in current circumstances where face to face meeting is less likely to occur. Overall though, social media shines a light on injustices and calls attention to societal issues, which helps encourage change.

Black Lives Matter Movement Today 

The Black Lives Matter movement heavily relies on social media platforms to spread awareness about their goals to end white supremacy and empower Black communities while deterring violence. BLM has recently started creating graphics, with phrases such as “Defund the Police” and “Enough is Enough”, that are available for individuals to repost on their own social media pages. When individuals post these graphics, more attention is drawn to the issues that BLM is addressing. 

BLM founders themselves connected through the social media app Facebook, and the movement has continued to grow through a united network facilitated by social media. Many advocates for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement demonstrate their support by following their social media accounts or reposting BLM’s specific posts. BLM has been using social media platforms to further their cause since its founding. For example, the hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter, is what initially propelled the movement. Although graphics and hashtags definitely serve the purpose of spreading awareness, further action must be taken in order for social change to occur. The concept of “slacktivism”, or solely reposting or liking something rather than working towards change, is something that BLM strives to avoid. 

How Much Social Change can Instagram Bring?

The BLM movement of today differs from those of the past due to the circumstances of the pandemic that leave individuals without typical work or responsibilities to adhere to and gives them more time to access social media, and therefore learn about social issues and advocate for social change. Social media has opened the door for the BLM supporters to take action. Social media posts in recent weeks have consisted of information regarding rallies and protests, sources to learn more about racial oppression, analogies to help people understand white privilege, links to donate to bail funds and petitions to sign, and more. Today, the Black Lives Matter movement is more than a hashtag, and that is largely due to the power of social media. 

With the current wave of the Black Lives Matter movement, many actions have been taken by supporters to help BLM accomplish their goals. For example, individuals have used social media to expose acts of racism. Actress Skai Jackson has been receiving copies of posted racist content from people all over the world who want to hold racist individuals accountable. Skai has been posting this content on Twitter and using social media to demonstrate that racist behavior is not to be accepted in society. Individuals like Skai are using social media platforms to take action against racist mentalities that still exist today. 

Where Do We Go from Here?

Overall, social media platforms helped the BLM movement gain momentum. In order for the movement to attain social change, action must be taken. Supporters of the BLM movement can take initiative by donating to bail funds which strive to raise money for innocent imprisoned African Americans, attend local protests and workshops while wearing masks to protect themselves and those around them, and overall continue to educate themselves by utilizing the various resources offered to help citizens better understand white privilege and the African American struggle. Advocates have utilized social media to provide opportunities for action, but the resources available on social media must be used for good. It’s easy for consumers to fall into the trap of reposting today, while the Black Lives Matter movement is at the center of their minds, and forgetting about the cause tomorrow. In order for long term change to occur, the recent social media surge needs to result in consistent action.