A look at the inaction on social media and its potential for change.
Mary Dupuis ‘19
Posted on Wednesday, May 1st, 2019
In a day and age where everything is shared online and opinions spread over social media platforms are as numerous as grains of sand on a beach, many people ponder if these platforms are being used to their full potential–or if they are just for show.
According to Statista.com, in 2017 about 2.46 billion people were using social media; and the number is expected to be increasing in 2019 to about 2.77 billion people.
With this ever-increasing number of individuals joined together for communication and the spread of news to others, information has the ability to spread like wildfire–and many students feel that this should be used to more of an advantage.
“I feel like people on social media have the intent of using it for change but lately I don’t think people are using it in the right way. People just post and say things online and then think ‘Oh, no one is going to come after me because it’s online and I can hide behind the internet,’” says senior Abigail Holmes. “If people were using social media so that everyone would be aware of changes that have to be made things could be much more widespread because the Internet reaches far and wide,” adds Holmes.
Sophomore Jacob Cardenas agrees, and feels that there are major positive effects that can be seen when social media is used to promote positivity and change.
“The way everybody connects with each other and some of the influences we’ve already seen online make it clear that we can make big differences on social media,” says Cardenas.
In order to make the changes that they wish to see, some students and staff have even gone a step further than exchanging ideals over their screens. Instead of just posting about their position on an issue, they have taken action to stop it.
English Department Head and reading specialist Gail Ashburn has signed petitions for her causes of choice on websites like Change.org and Move On, while Holmes says that she has signed petitions about gun violence and saving the environment. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Cardenas says that he has signed a petition about stopping the deportation of famous rapper, 21 Savage.
But, not everyone decides to take extra steps outside of social media to stop things from taking place.
“I haven’t signed any petitions because I don’t see any actions taking place that would harm me personally. If it’s something political I would maybe need to vote and I’m not the legal voting age,” says sophomore Nathan Phillips. “When I see something that’s happening and I feel it’s wrong I usually just stay out of it because it’s just not my business,” adds Phillips.
Senior Michaela Searcy has similar views as Phillips, saying that she often tries to avoid any online confrontation. With the larger following on social media that she has gained of 99.3K people, Searcy chooses to use her social media to promote herself and other products instead of taking stands.
“I use social media to promote myself. I promote a lot of stuff like hair and clothes and I get money for it and free clothes and stuff like that. When I see something happening on social media that’s wrong I usually stay out of it instead of getting involved because it’s just not my business,” says Searcy.
Regardless of what people use their platforms for or when they decide to take stands, many feel that social media can be used in better ways.
“I feel that generally people use social media as a way to complain instead of actually doing something to benefit the society around them. This is a problem because it leads people to believe that the action of just posting does something. It’s like inaction almost,” says Ashburn.
Holmes feels the same way, and says that while the idea of always standing up for what you believe in is a good fantasy, it does not always happen. But, the mixture of people on social media who are using it for change–or the opposite–usually have the intentions of doing the right thing.
“I want to say I would take a stand when I see something that is happening that I feel is wrong, but I know that I don’t actually do anything. But, if given the opportunity I would. There’s a good amount of people who just use social media to complain,” says Holmes. “People talk about things in the wrong way; they talk about them and say that they’re wrong and say who’s at fault but they don’t actually do anything about it,” adds Holmes.
Principal Robert Beato spends his time on Twitter making announcements for South Lake Schools, but sees enough on social media to believe the opposite entirely. He feels that without people simply posting and talking about things on social media, no change could ever come.
“I think sometimes maybe the only way you get change is to talk about it. I think it always starts with you putting something true out on social media and when someone is reading it, at the very least, they can say, ‘Oh I wasn’t aware of that,’ and then hopefully they can do a little research to see if that’s true or not. It always starts with a conversation,” says Beato.
Regardless of what ways people feel that social media can (or can not) bring about change, everyone believes that if they had the platform like that of a celebrity they would put it to good use for positive outcomes.
“If I had a platform like that of a celebrity I would use it for good for sure because if you have that kind of power you should use it,” says Cardenas. “Kind of like how Kylie Jenner has some of the most followers on Instagram, basically whatever she says there’s millions of people that will back her up. So, yeah, of course I would use it for good,” adds Cardenas.
Searcy agrees, and stresses the importance of celebrities being conscientious of what they say because so many people will be behind them.
“People look up to celebrities and if they say something then nine times out of ten the people who look up to them will follow after them,” says Searcy.
While she may not have the backing of millions, math teacher Dr. Angela Principato feels that she already uses her Twitter account for the change and good that she likes to see from celebrities for her students.
“I like to believe that while I’m not a celebrity I already kind of do use my platform for good with my students. But, it’s generally not okay for me as a teacher to use my platform to do that. If I had a larger platform I would think that I would. I think that when you have that platform and you can use it for good, you should,” says Principato.
But, with a big or small following, the potential for change on a platform containing billions of people is, in students’ and staffs’ minds, limitless.
“Use social media for good. It can be for ranting, but it’s not for making problems it’s just for connecting,” says Cardenas. “Anything that is good–we can make a difference with it. Some people have challenges like saying something positive about the person ahead of you in the comments. When big people do that and it’s actually impactful stuff I think it could make a difference,” adds Cardenas.
Principato also encourages positive change in any way people can make it happen, and feels that the internet makes it very possible.
“Hopefully we can see powerful change. What that change could be is really limitless, however they choose to use it I think it could be amazing,” says Principato.