What is constantly inspiring me is how much potential
our generation has to inspire great change.
With social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, we have the power to reach millions with the click of a button. We have the ability to create dialogue and recognition for the great social causes that plague our world today. With trending abilities like the “hashtag”, and the ability to communicate with practically anybody regardless of their location on planet Earth, we can connect with people we would have never before met. To some capacity, space doesn’t exist in our virtual world, and that gives immense power to social media.
Unfortunately, our access to the internet is getting clogged with videos of meowing cats and dancing goat memes. We are completely undermining great social issues by neglecting to post about them on our personal pages. We are holding back the potential of social, political, and cultural progession by only retweeting the “most watched” Vines.
This has recently come to my attention in my own life, and I now see how I’m a part of a much bigger problem. And so are you.
Less than one week ago, the worst school shooting that has happened since Sandy Hook occurred at a high school not one hour from my hometown. I repeat… this happened less than a week ago, and the national coverage it has accumulated is close to nothing. Nobody, virtually or otherwise, is talking about this tragic event.
It got swept under the rug and left behind before it had the chance to even catch fire, and now major newspapers like the New York Times are more concerned with Tennessee abortion voting news than the loss of three teenager’s lives by the hand of one of their peers. Major news reports are more concerned with international gun regulations than the blood that has been shed in one of our very own lunchrooms.
When I first heard of the shooting Friday afternoon, I reacted like just about everybody else. Shock, horror, and then I continued on with my day. Although the shooting was fairly close to me, I still had work to do, and I still had plans that evening. Hours later, I only thought of it again when my roommate brought it up and we Googled what had happened.
Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday passed and I thought of it less times than I can count on one hand. And then all of a sudden, scrolling through my newsfeed, I remembered. It hit me dead on that yet another school shooting has happened. I was surprised by myself and the fact that I hadn’t even thought about it. How did I let this go so easily forgotten?
I started to research what else had been found out. Scrolling through Google, I was surprised by how little national newspapers were talking about the event. Where were everybody’s reports on what had happened? In fact, why hadn’t I seen this on the news this weekend?
The main reason I didn’t think of it much over those few days is because nobody’s talking about it. Not only is it getting scarce national media attention, but not even people who live as close as I do to Marysville are reacting and feeling the weight of Friday’s events.
I keep thinking that perhaps neglecting to publicize events like these is an effort to reduce the risk of “inspiring” other mentally unstable teens to do a similar act, but I also know that if we continue to ignore this issue, there won’t be one school in the United States that is safe anymore. In fact, I would argue that there isn’t a single classroom that is safe anymore.
New programs weren’t neglecting to report about the Marysville-Pilchuck shooting consciously; they weren’t reporting about it simply because those watching didn’t care. It seems to me that we are becoming numb and unaffected by mass shootings. It’s becoming so engrained in our culture that its fails to shock anyone anymore. “Oh, another school shooting? Next.”
In order to seek any solution, we have to acknowledge the immense problem our generation is facing. Mass shootings are becoming a part of our popular culture, alongside Katy Perry and LuluLemon. Do we even fully understand the gravity of that? How the hell is #nationalcatday trending and yet nobody even remembers the three lives that were lost but 5 days ago?
If reporting on a new yoga sensation for men called “Broga” in light of such tragedy is going to continue, it’s time that our own social media platforms are used for social good. If the New York Times won’t call for attention, then we must.
Regardless of your stance on gun control, you cannot deny the fact that lives are being lost, and much, much worse, lost lives are being forgotten. We have the power to tell important stories to people living across the globe. We have the power to tell important stores to our neighbors. We have the power to create trending topics about more than cat videos.
I’m not asking for us to become news junkies and social media reporters on only horrific events. I’m not even asking that you post about the most recent United States public school shooting. I’m just asking that you use your own following on sites like Facebook and Twitter to bring attention to the need for a change in gun policy, or to the need for a change in gender inequality. I simply ask that as we come across stories, horrific or inspiring, we use them as launching points for change on the bigger issues.
What I ask is that as you read this blog post, you think of the things you care about. I ask that you think about the social issues that you want to see progress and change. I ask that even without the tragedy of a school shooting, you use your influence to better our world. Because now more than ever before, you have the opportunity to be a part of that change.. With nothing more than 140 characters and a few hashtags.
I vow to use my influence on social media to create a more just and humane world. I vow to speak (and type) with passion, care, and attention to those who need it. I vow to never forget about the Marysville-Pilchuck High School Shooting (which is now among 80 reported school shootings since Newtown), and I vow to use our virtual world as a platform for progress.
Let’s use the #socialmediaforsocialgood and talk about issues we care about and think deserve attention.
Check out the must-read article that truly inspired this blog post… Thanks Piers Morgan for writing about things that MATTER.