"...The Black Lives Matter movement and other Active Allies have picked their fight, and their ultimate weapon is Social Media.'"
By Megan Kern & Sabrina Fani
It seems that every generation acquires something that the previous could only imagine in their dreams. Generation X experienced the development of computers; Millennials revolutionized the use of cellphones; and Generation Z embraces social media. With every advancement, the initial societal response is one of wonderment and empowerment as people have the capability to do what others before never could. Yet, over time the wonderment fades, and empowerment is replaced with outrage or disinterest as many abuse or “incorrectly” utilize the technology at their disposal. The year 2020 began on an interesting note as the Coronavirus wreaked havoc on the medically vulnerable, the health industry, and the worldwide economy. Then, societal unrest grew as people around the world became fed up with the heightened social and racial injustices that should have been eradicated hundreds of years ago. People have joined ranks amidst the pandemic to bring about change that society has craved for generations. The Black Lives Matter movement and other Active Allies have picked their fight, and their ultimate weapon is Social Media.
“...the power of social media influencers has been more prevalent than ever...”
THE EVOLVING ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Social Media and Coronavirus
Over three months have passed since the Coronavirus caused worldwide shutdowns, and the world is still watching, learning, and adapting while in search for a new sense of normalcy. Social distancing and quarantine have threatened peoples’ mental health, face masks have caused separation as if it were a political divide, and even as restaurants and retail facilities begin to re-open there is an eerie sense that things are still not normal– and will not be for quite some time. Society has been ravaged throughout time by illness and countless plagues: of particular note is the Spanish Influenza of 1920 and, even more recently, the SARS virus of 2002. Yet, along with the difficulties of living during a pandemic, there is one advantage to living during the Coronavirus outbreak than any other pandemic before it…social media.
While many find social media burdensome to navigate as it requires a great deal of combing through posts that lack substance, the use of social media has assisted in maintaining the majority of peoples’ way of life. Specifically, many brands have utilized their social media platforms in order to inform and broadcast what their company is doing to help out their consumers and society as a whole. Examples include large scale brewers like Tito’s Vodka and BrewDog beginning to manufacture hand sanitizer when there was a shortage and Miller Lite tweeting to promote their #Virtualtipjar campaign which aimed to raise money for bartenders who have been unemployed due to the Coronavirus. Additionally, countless restaurants have used and developed mobile apps for food delivery and home entertainment services like Netflix and Disney+ have released new movies and television shows with new watch party capabilities and other improvements to give back to their consumers. Moreover, mainstream social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest have launched new features that aim to promote and support small business owners as well as assist consumers.
The power of social media influencers has been more prevalent than ever in face of the virus. Many are using their platforms to encourage the public to support small business who are suffering as a consequence of the pandemic. From recommending products and restaurants, hosting virtual events and discussions, and collecting donations, influencers have encouraged the public to contribute to brands who otherwise would be inactive as a consequence of the pandemic. In fact, research has shown that many customers trust celebrities, athletes, and influencers for brand advice.
Social Media and the Black Lives Matter Movement
Although life during a pandemic is challenging, the human race has showcased its adaptability, resiliency, and drive to continue moving forward. At first this included returning to work and improving online education opportunities. More recently, however, people have joined forces in support of the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality and systemic racism. Millions of people have lost their jobs or are living paycheck to paycheck, and with time to reflect have become “thoroughly fed up”