editoral,  informational

So Much Media: Taking a Step Back


So Much Media: Taking a Step Back

I opened Instagram to a sea of posts, all blank; no—all black...

S. L.

I opened Instagram to a sea of posts, all blank; no—all black. 


After a weeklong Instagram hiatus, my return to social media suggested a surprising flood of solidarity. Similar captions sped me up to date: To stand with black and brown communities, users were joining in on an international day of “blacking out” the platform to emphasize a conversation on institutionalized racial implications in America. 


Relieved that I had not missed out on #blackouttuesday, I reached for the post icon, then hesitated. My perspective ping-ponged in such rapid succession – It seemed impossible that I was the only player involved. 


Following a trend won’t create change, I reminded myself. Ping. 

But it will start a conversation, I replied, deflecting my inherent skepticism. Pong.

Are you just posting because—

No! How other people perceive my post, or silence, has absolutely no influence on my decision!

You don’t even know how this trend started. 

I know why I’m posting, though.



Ping, pong.



The problem was twofold: I was (a) not the only player involved, and (b) ignoring that implicitly understood truth. I had deleted Instagram the week before exactly because of this conflict. Somewhere between the public outrage of the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery and the strangulation of George Floyd, posts joking about befriending spiders (profession: web design) were replaced with demands of racial justice. Even logging in to Instagram felt empowering; within minutes I could find meaningful videos, images, and resources representing every perspective on and implications of institutionalized racism. The New York Times was swapped with Instagram stories, and diverging rhetoric was both exciting and overwhelming. 


Watch this video to learn exactly what it means to be a Black father.

Read this thread to understand your bias. 

Click on this link to support POC. 

Text this number to demand justice. 

Sign this petition, donate here, repost this. 


A virtual community, engaged in activism. I had recently finished Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, and each of his points seemed to be emphasized in the energy rattling my feed. 


“I too felt bound by my ignorance,” Coates wrote. 

Follow this account to understand your role in responsibility and action.

“The questions matter as much, perhaps more than, the answers.”

First ask yourself why you are posting.

“People who believe themselves to be white are obsessed with the politics of exoneration.” 

Social media alone will not solve for centuries of racial oppression.

“What matters is the system that makes your body breakable.” 


“The destroyers will rarely be held accountable. Mostly they will receive pensions.”

Justice for Breonna Taylor checklist (1 of 12 spaces checked over 4 months after her death). 


Somewhere in the whir of accountability influx, I hit the learning curve equivalent of social media activism exposure. The posts were not informing me so much as shoving information into my head, screaming at me to scream for equality in the right way—yet everything seemed to be wrong. 


Videos of cops marching alongside protestors (“More of this.”), back to back with a post scrutinizing any positive association with police (“Don’t diminish the movement.”).


Footage of a person of color killed because of their skin, (“You need to watch to understand.”), immediately followed by a post condemning the publicization of racial violence (“Our pain is not for you to watch.”). 


Pictures of protestors at local marches (“Demand justice.”), contrasted by a neighboring post outraged that people’s faces are being exposed (“These photos can be traced; you are putting people at risk; you are part of the problem.”).


No post at all. “Your silence makes you complicit.”


This same cacophony of perspectives and information awaited me when I redownloaded Instagram on #blackouttuesday. The Black Lives Matter hashtag blocked urgent posts and updates on the movement, inadvertently causing a new problem, and the trend began with the music industry, a field that scores low in diversity and inclusivity.


I deleted the app a second time. 


The majority of perspectives I encountered on the site were valid, authentic, and meaningful. But I failed to fully understand my own experiences, and establish boundaries between personal perspectives and the infinite opinions of family, friends, and strangers. There two different perspectives with which users navigate social media: as posters, and as followers. 


When posting, one of the best ways to shift social media culture is to shift the tone in which content is presented. It is important to consider the audience and intentionality behind each post. The urgency to break down—both understanding and disabling—systemic racism is necessary.


But consider the other end of the post. Who is reading its content? Are they already in agreement? Are they uninformed, or decidedly opposed? Beyond content, timing, and frequency, posts send a message in their tone. Before publicly sharing, questioning, attacking, or agreeing, consider the perspectives digesting a post. And as the infinite scroll of Instagram stories flood your feed, consider how your own perspectives are—and should be—changing, or remaining. If that means a social media hiatus, by all means, take it; Instagram will be right where you left it. 

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