With college applications, a hybrid learning schedule, and what seems like an onslaught of summatives every few days, the past few months have been a hectic time for high school students at SIS. COVID-19 has truly thrown everything out of balance, and if anything, the only predictable aspect of our lives is how unpredictable the future will be. All signs point to how our lives have changed dramatically both in and out of the classroom. That is, except for one: social media.
If all human life was wiped out today, and all we had left behind was our Instagram feeds, aliens would probably think October 2020 was a great time to be alive. With pictures of fancy cafés, family vacations, and excursions with friends broadcasted via the Internet, we build the persona that despite a global pandemic and widespread socio-political turmoil, we are living the time of our lives. As we briefly take off our masks and pose for photos, we create snapshots of a completely perfect world.
But perhaps what is most striking about the current state of social media, particularly among students, is how much it has changed over the past months. The recent, lighthearted posts of our peers are a far cry from the serious messages that they rallied behind in protest of police brutality and the death of George Floyd. #BLM has been drowned out by a sea of #haha, #fun, #friends, and any calls for change have all but died down. The social media activism train, at least at SIS, has ground to a screeching halt.
This is not to say that everyone should start uploading Instagram Stories about police brutality or stop posting pictures of themselves enjoying life. In the doom and gloom of the recent months, meeting with friends and capturing those memories in the form of photos can be a healthy way to relieve stress and have fun. And if anything, simply raising awareness on social media about socio-political issues and not taking further action, or engaging in “slacktivism,” can be even more detrimental, as aptly pointed out in our Issue 1 Focus. Social media can serve as a litmus test for what is currently trending or talked about, but it most certainly not the end all be all.
Ultimately, it is important for us to remain cognizant and engaged in the issues around us while also enjoying ourselves as responsible young adults. Instead of waiting for the next George Floyd or Brenna Taylor to blow up our social media feeds, we can all do more to proactively keep these issues in our everyday discussions. Whether it be concerns of police brutality, gender-based discrimination, or environmental destruction, the first step would be to keep ourselves informed of the pressing challenges our society faces. Education fosters consciousness, which breeds action. From posts on Instagram, to writing editorials, signing petitions, and even participating in online campaigns, we all can initiate and build momentum for change. So maybe the next time you are on your way to a nice restaurant, start by reading an article or two. We promise to do the same.