About two years ago, the demand for justice for Trayvon Martin (pictured), who was shot dead by a volunteer neighborhood watchman in his father’s gated community, was a trending topic on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and all other social networks, but eventually, the loud voices slowly lost confidence and crawled back to silent discontent.
Roughly three months ago, a discussion of race resurfaced, taking over the social media-sphere. This time, Donald Sterling’s (pictured at right) racist remarks about African-American players in the NBA were the subject of controversy. It did not take long, however, before Sterling was kicked to the curb following his ban from the NBA.
The past few weeks saw the world united under one cause: showing solidarity with the families of the 200-plus girls (pictured below) kidnapped in Nigeria by terrorist group Boko Haram and demanding that they be returned home.
But eventually, the international protests on the streets reduced significantly in numbers, and most began showing solidarity with the families solely via social media, and soon the demand to find the girls was left to the families and human rights groups.
Then a couple of days ago, a video showing the illegal take down of 43-year-old Eric Garner (pictured above) by an NYPD officer who choked him to death sparked outrage. Protests to demand justice are underway and a revolution that had lost form appears to be gaining momentum once again.
But unfortunately, this, too, shall pass: The revolutionary hashtags will cease to see the light of day, the long status’ will be cut down to single sentences, and the echoes of justice will be swallowed back in to our bodies.
We will then press pause on our activism, regardless of the outcome, and wait for the next Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Renisha McBride, Eric Garner, Donald Sterling, and another missing girls bandwagon to jump on.
We will continue to be oblivious of the fact that in demanding justice for one without demanding a change to racial policies, will not stop racial profiling; that in demanding action to be taken against Donald Sterling without speaking of institutional racism, we will not silence the voices of other racists sitting on the boards of institutions; that in demanding that “our girls [be brought] back home” without demanding accountability for government failures, we will not secure a nation.
Social media is arguably the most-powerful tool of contemporary society. As with all things powerful, it has the potential for both good and evil. As much as we have become interconnected and the phrase, “It’s a small world,” could not be more apparent, we have also lost touch with our core values as humanity, substituting action and emotion for like and re-tweet buttons.
We have become zombies who act on trending values, instead of personal beliefs. Social media has become a tool that controls us, rather than a tool that we use. How else can we explain Marcus Garvey rallying more than 6,000,000 people together in the 1920s?
Before you say things have changed, consider that statement.
Have they really?