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International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Social Media Helps Bring Awareness to Social Movements

Image Credit: Wikipedia
Image Credit: Wikipedia

During 2015, many movements such as ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Love Wins’ have begun circulating social media, bringing to light important social issues that are sweeping the United States.

From 2008 to now, the use of social media among the US population has grown from 49% to 73%. According to Pew Research Center, teenagers are the greatest participants (no surprise there), with 92% of teens between the ages of 13 and 17 going online daily.

“Social media is such an important part of so many young people’s lives”, said Carrie James, who is part of a research effort called The Good Participation project at Project Zero at Harvard University.

In large part because of social media, more teenagers are becoming aware of and learning about societal issues concerning incidents of police brutality towards African-Americans and questions about LGBTQ rights. They are joining and supporting these movements simply by tweeting, reblogging and sharing on websites such as Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram.

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“Social media provides important spaces for both voice and dialogue about issues like racism.” according to Mr. James. “In addition, these media can be used to recruit large numbers of people to take action on behalf of a given cause.”

Many WIS students use social media and are paying attention to what is going on around the world, although most do not actively participate in the advocacy groups.

“I think most popular ones are Black Lives Matter and Love Wins,” Jessica Jackson, a sophomore at the Washington International School hypothesized when asked her opinion on the movements of 2015.

Black Lives Matter is an activist movement in the United States that condemns police brutality against African-Americans. It started after the shooting of Trayvon Martin, an African-American unarmed teenager, in July 2013. With the 2014 deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, the movement has accumulated more recognition and support, especially on social media. With the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, it has become easier to mobilize the public opinion on and off the net.

“This movement has brought police brutality into a worldwide perspective instead of one that people talk about quietly”, Jackson said.

Like Black Lives Matter, the “Love Wins” movement has rapidly spread across different social media platforms. Ever since the Supreme Court ruled in favor same-sex marriage in the case Obergefell v. Hodges, people are using the hashtag #LoveWins to express their support for this ruling and the LGBT community.

“We are nothing without equality. We are nothing without love and freedom. Thank you for making the right decision, Supreme Court. #LoveWins,” Alex Goldschmidt tweeted.

Technology and the internet are vital for the growth of these movements, with social media providing a bigger platform for voicing one’s views and having the ability to reach a wide scale and diverse audience.

“Social media is important because, as youth often tells us, sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are where they spend a good amount of time,” Mr. James adds, “Also, social media have particular features that are helpful, for example, they allow you to circulate or spread information to a lot of people in an efficient way.”

Activists and supporters bring their issues to social media platforms and use the accessibility and simplicity of social media to their advantage. This encourages political participation form the youth.

“The digital context provides new opportunities for youth to learn about social justice issues and explore different avenues for getting involved,” James said.

With more awareness and knowledge of the issues, people want to join the fight against injustice and inequality.

“Some teens are using media in these ways, to express their ideas about civic and political issues and to show that they are involved,” James said. “These ‘digital activist’ teens have the potential to encourage their less civically involved peers to get involved in movements.”

As they tweet and post about them, they feel like their voices are being heard and that they are becoming part of something bigger than themselves.

“You feel like you’re now part of this big movement,” Jackson remarked. “You now have a say in what’s happening.”

By Ananiya Kumar Neeck

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