Lately, I have been contemplating the impact that social media has on our generation and our interest in current events. We live in “The Twitter Era”, where news updates are limited to 150 characters and are retweeted quicker than you can say Y.O.L.O.
I will never forget how I learned about Osama Bin Laden’s death. I was sitting in the New House School of Communication building on Syracuse University’s campus, studying for my senior year final exams and simultaneously checking my twitter feed. All of a sudden the hashtag #BinLaden popped into the Trending Topics section of my feed. Within moments, I was connected to live tweets from Abbottabad, Pakistan. Tweets sent by a local blogger, Athar or @ReallyVirtual as he is known on Twitter, had gone viral within minutes of him pressing send. Arthar’s set of tweets ricocheted around the globe, informing people about the on-the-ground attacks before The American Government could even put together the proper words to inform the American people; THIS is the power of the internet.
So, why is it, that in a country where over 45% percent of the adult population uses social media on any given day, we seem to forget these “Trending Topics” just as fast as we retweet them to our followers? The Twitter Era has made our interest in current events and social movements a novelty, rather than the other way around. With a show of virtual hands, don’t worry…..no-one is watching, how many of you made the profile photo of your social network page blank in order to stand in solidarity with Trayvon Martin and his family? Now….how many of you put up a selfie after a just a few days/a week? Precisely.
The issue at hand is not the fact that current events have become a trending topic in American pop culture, but rather that these trending topics do not last long enough to sustain productive discourse. Once the ‘freshness’ of having a blank profile picture wore off, we instantly forgot about the social and judiciary implications of the Travyon Martin trail. As soon as the film “Fruitville Station” left American theaters, we forgot about the racially motivated injustice that ended Oscar Grants life. Less than a month after Super Typhoon #Haiyan claimed the lives of over 5,000 innocent people in The Philippines, we can hardly see the remnants of that trending topic in our news feeds. We, as a generation of socially conscious, autonomous, technically savvy people must do better.
Dearest followers, I challenge you to think outside of a hashtag.
Now Go And Tweet That