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The tone deafness of social media

Photo by Jae C. Hong/AP Photo

I remember last summer when protests and deaths filled my TV screens, aesthetic pictures occupied my timelines. The juxtaposition of the two made me question the nature of social media. I wrestled with the fact that maybe social media is not to replicate reality but to build a virtual one. And that is very scary to me. Especially when we live in a time such as this one.

I'm running into the same dilemma this summer. My YouTube feed is a mixture of day-in-the-life vlogs and testimonies from 6-year-old school shooting survivors. It's two stark realities that I can choose to learn about, but why do I get the luxury of choosing? Why do I have the choice to ignore something so pivotal such as a shooting that killed 19 children? Why aren't we shouting from the rooftops about what this means, for safety, security and children everywhere? Why are the things that are happening in the world around us a choice to learn about? Why can't we read the room, read that we are a nation in mourning?

We have seen social media time and time again prove itself to be a driving force for our society. Sometimes it seems like we pick and choose what we want to highlight. We only comment on things that are current. Or rather things that are both comfortable and current. The death of children is never comfortable to discuss. But a conversation needs to be had. For their sakes and for ours.

I would be remiss to not note that I know social media platforms do not have the responsibility of posting anything about the current social climate and happenings. But boy, would it help! Imagine the change that could start happening if YouTube had a Uvalde or Buffalo tribute logo or a donation button to the survivors, how many more people would be aware of what is going on. It would acknowledge the crisis taking place, that is robbing children and adults of their futures. Of their innocent lives. It would maybe start to enact change before we no longer have the luxury of ignoring the disturbing reality that is gun violence in America.

I think the tone deafness of social media is something I will never not be disturbed by, because it always makes me question: Why are we more worried about our feeds than the future of our neighbors? Or ourselves? And why do we wait until something is trending for us to care about it?


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