Words by T Bliss, Staff Writer
Navigating current issues in the digital era
A cultural paradigm has emerged where social and environmental issues become ‘trending’ on social media and across the internet but disregarded and forgotten when a new trend or issue hits our screens.
We have become so accustomed to receiving and expecting to receive all our news of global issues through our screens and social media. The rise in the Trump era of ‘fake news’ introduced an element of mistrust, exploiting our gullibility as this form of news spreads far faster than fact checking. But even when the facts are there, and stories inhabit our feeds for days or weeks they still seem to just disappear into thin air.
Do we also run the risk of missing significant matters and events when they don’t appear en masse on our devices? Have we fallen into a trap of assuming that if it’s important or worth knowing it would just automatically come into view? Whilst yet another minor celebrity’s past mistakes are brought to light and the usual apology videos pour into social media with cries to end ‘cancel culture’, how many atrocities or big wins go unheard of? There is just too much inconsistency to rely on algorithms to deliver the big stories to us, leaving us ignorant in the dark.
Don’t get me wrong, there are enormous benefits to the wide ranging and vast audiences that are reached and brought to the attention of social injustices and environmental catastrophes. Awareness is one of the most powerful items in a campaign’s toolbox, and the momentum created by the ease of sharing and viewing stories is beyond impressive. As we’ve seen from the powerful BLM movement in 2020, the awareness of atrocities shared across social media facilitated huge protests and education campaigns which are so important for social justice. But is there a risk of losing that momentum and forgetting the need to keep going to protect this change, before the next big trend takes over our screens?
Social injustice isn’t solved by a like and a share, it doesn’t end after a million views. So why have we taken to this routine of picking up an issue, running with it, only to leave it behind. Are we conditioned to just stop caring when the next big thing grabs hold of our attention, or do we really believe subconsciously everything is resolved after a spout of social media attention?
Social media provides a platform for millions to be reached and connected over issues we rightly feel passionate about. It creates an opportunity for us to become aware of not just matters we weren’t aware of, but also how important and complex issues we had already heard of are. I think it is important that we look at this outlet of news as a chance to become aware of pressing topics around the globe, but to use this as a starting point to educate ourselves and others and persevere to drive change. Furthermore, we shouldn’t be complacent and assume everything we need or might want to know will be delivered to us every time we swipe through our phones, and be mindful that equally important matters can be found when we look for them.