#BlackLivesMatter. #StandWithHK. #JunkTerrorBill. You’ve most likely seen these, among other similar topics, trending all over social media in the past few weeks, and rightfully so.
Activism used to be about joining rallies and protests in our nearby communities or schools. Of course, now, what with the pandemic and quarantine, it’s nearly impossible to do such things here. So what do we do? We take it to the internet.
Using social media for the better
Because of current conditions and because we’ve evolved as a people, technology has become an ally in forwarding movements, allowing people to share information that we may not hear about in the news.
According to a study conducted by Irregular Labs that surveyed Gen Zers in 7 countries, 63% said that they informed themselves of social and political issues through social media.
For example, I’ve learned way more about what actually happens in Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in the U.S.A by scrolling through videos on my Twitter timeline than by seeing news bits on TV. News outlets in the States may call them “riots” and show you violence brought about by black people (plenty of which are very young, I might add) but they won’t show you how peaceful the protests were before police arrived and decided it was okay to hurt those protesters.
More than tweets, however, Gen Zers have even taken to TikTok, which people (teens and kids, mostly) primarily use to share dance challenges. Its wide reach and influence on the youth is why enough have decided to share more information regarding several movements through this app.
Unfortunately, the social media platform was slammed for being anti-black and racist as many people noticed how TikToks that included “#BlackLivesMatter” or other tags related to George Floyd were blocked. Many TikTok users even flocked to Twitter with a new tag: #TikTokRacist.
But just because one social media app isn’t as progressive as we hoped it to be, that doesn’t stop Gen Zers from letting their voices be heard online.
TikTok teens and k-pop fans even took to reserving tickets to a Trump rally to leave the seats empty, and this in itself is activism. Even U.S. representative, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave credit to Gen Zers, or Zoomers as she called us, and k-pop allies for fighting for justice in such a simple yet powerful act.
I’ve seen infographics, Twitter threads, and even websites containing information on these issues that include links on what petitions to sign, how to stay safe in protests (for those in the U.S.A) and how to stay safe online, and where to donate. While some might think that still isn’t much, I believe that it’s a big help when said links are shared by millions of people on the internet.
See, a lot of older people will criticize millennials and Gen Zers for being on social media too much (See: “Sa kaka-computer mo ‘yan, e.”) but in times like these, our technology-driven lives make us pretty useful. I, for one, feel better knowing I can still make a difference despite being stuck at home because of quarantine.
Social media can sometimes be a toxic place, I’ll admit, but it can also be a place for young people, such as myself, to become helpful and informed.