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Using Social Media to Create Social Change

My Experience on Social Media

We live in a world that is driven by social media. Growing up with the presence of the media has been proven to increase the prevalence of mental-health issues–especially in teenagers. Within the past few months, there has been a noticeable soar in the fight for racial equality. This has only been intensified with the use of social media. Every person, no matter their gender, race, ethnicity, or any other factor wants and deserves to share their opinion on these platforms. More than ever before, we need to promote a world of social media that uplifts and empowers rather than misconstrues and disheartens.

As a Jewish woman, I witness antisemitism on a daily basis. Because of antisemitic Twitter posts such as “#JewishPrivilege they made up the holacaust  [sic] to hurt Black people,” it is more than difficult to feel accepted and supported online. This tweet attempts to pit Jewish folks against Black folks and prevent all groups from coming together over common ground. Another Twitter user was not hesitant to mention that she was “So tried [sic] of jews seeking fake sympathy”, which is also incredibly disheartening. A majority of users online will utilize the influence of stereotypes or prejudice to encourage antisemitic, racist, and misogynist values. These comments imply that Jews decided to exaggerate the tragedies of the Holocaust for their own self gain. This is extremely somber to hear as someone who lost family members during that time. I want to acknowledge these antisemitic stereotypes, but focus on the true core values of Judaism–to  create and promote a world of bliss and peace as well as allyship. It is with no doubt that racism is a significant issue in our country, but it should NOT be controversial. We need to come together and create tangible change in our systems! While I will never fully understand the experience of being Black in America, I have first-hand experience of isolation on social media as a Jewish woman. This has given me the opportunity to reflect on my past experiences online and consider how I can work towards creating a social media where EVERYONE is able to express themselves and learn from one another, rather than a place to spread hate.

 

How do we use social media to uplift and empower one another virtually?

So, how do we transition from these hateful comments to encourage the intended purpose of social media, which is to establish virtual connections and empower one another. Social media platforms allow us to upload comments and posts without truly understanding the power of our words. In this decade, we need to promote positive posts rather than uniting behind cancel culture. I think the first step is education and promoting words of affirmation. Since George Floyd’s death intensified the fire in the fight for racial equality, other marginalized groups have united behind the Black Lives Matter movement. This movement has also encouraged white Americans to explore and educate themselves about white privilege and how that privilege is linked to other injustices in the world, like human trafficking. Realizing that others did not notice this privilege before was the ultimate wakeup call for our country. In this past year, I have studied the concept of privilege and how it can intensely impact the life of each person. I decided to read White Privilege by Robert P. Amico, which you can find on Amazon. But in the past seven months, I can proudly report that many of my close friends have started to attend rallies, post more content as an ally, and learn about the benefits of allyship. We, as a nation are changing!

 

How do we change the narrative?

I think we need to create a world of social media that is designed for everyone and promotes allyship among race, gender, ethnicity, etc. A world of platforms that include everyone rather than hyperfocusing on prearranged social norms. We can accomplish this in three simple steps:

1. Affirming any acts or posts of equality.

When you find a post that supports equality, repost it! Add it to your story or create a highlight reel for it on Instagram. You can also comment and like posts that reinforce this message.

 

Ariana Grande tweeted about the impact of a vote in the upcoming November election to establish a world of equality! Hundreds of thousands of people affirmed this post by liking, commenting and sharing. REMEMBER TO VOTE!

 

2. Finding and sharing content that promotes acts of equality

Let’s develop new norms for social media. We need to build a network that uplifts instead of shatters. We can do so by adding positive captions to posts that affirm this message and then repost them. You can also tag some of your peers to repost it with you!

Rihanna tweeted about the recent explosion in Beirut, Lebanon. 21,400 of Rihanna’s followers shared this post to help raise awareness! In the media, it is rare to find celebrities that bring attention to worldly issues, especially in the middle

 

3. Learning to take accountability when we slip up.

When we slip up, say sorry and take action! It is much more respectable to apologize when you are wrong rather than to take no responsibility for your actions. It is crucial to understand that nobody is perfect, especially in a society that feeds into the toxicity of cancel culture. This could mean reposting something that aligns with your political/social values, or learning to accept the consequences if you have made offensive comments online.

Former Bachelorette star, Hannah Brown, sang the n-word in a video on social media. After realizing that she hurt many of her fans, she stepped back from social media and hired a professional to teach her about racism. When she returned to social media, she apologized. She didn’t expect her followers to forgive her, but she acknowledged that her actions were wrong. Then, she began to continuously post anti-racist resources and amplify the voices of Black activists.

 

These three components will ensure a safer and more inclusive world of social media.

 

Here are some additional links to causes you can support and more information about allyship:

 

White Privilege and Human Trafficking: How do they intersect?

Rachel Cargle’s #DoTheWork 30 Day Program

Ways to help Black Lives Matter

Register to vote

 

Here are some of my favorite Instagram accounts that focus on antisemitism and the BLM movement. I encourage all of you to give at least two of these accounts a follow and to share at least one post!

 

@combattingantisemitism

@whatantisemitismlookslike 

@adl_national 

@jewishlgbt 

@blackandjewishunity

@blklivesmatter 

@seattleblackbusinesses

@blackpagesseattle