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Social Media, Social Justice, and Social Obligation

By Jesse Sannicandro

Remember when social media became a social obligation? We’ve reached a period in time when it has become weird to not be connected to a social network. With the booming evolution of online interaction, we have become accustomed to sharing more and more personal information, particularly on Facebook.

There are many who use this platform to express their mourning over the loss of a loved one. Others enjoy airing out their personal grievances as a form of catharsis. Many of my friends use social media as a way to articulate their political beliefs. In addition to political posts, there is often a very strong reaction to recent tragedies.

Facebook recently added an option to customize your proJle picture to demonstrate support. I find it odd that the people at Facebook deem it appropriate to express your joy that gay marriage is deemed constitutional; your condolences regarding a mass shooting; or your excitement for the newest Star Wars film in the same manner. The most troublesome thing about this is that certain events are deemed important, while others fall by the wayside.

After the shooting at Pulse Nightclub, I saw someone share a post that said something along the lines of “Dear straight friends, don’t think we didn’t see you not posting about the shooting.” This seemed like a hostile response to something that could be an oversight. Some people simply don’t post every time something terrible happens in the world. The person who reposted this seemed to see it as folks cherry-picking their battles, choosing to support some causes while ignoring others. It’s possible that there’s another reason behind this perceived slight. Perhaps, someone doesn’t post because they would rather quietly donate to the cause rather than post it in public. If a grievance or feeling isn’t posted on Facebook, that doesn’t necessarily make it less valid, or not present; cultural presence shouldn’t rely on social posting.

Living in an age where we can share information instantly is extremely useful for spreading awareness, and being able to make our beliefs known publicly is convenient in terms of letting people know who we are. I think it’s wonderful that people are able to share heartfelt and lengthy posts in a public forum. On the other hand, it’s okay to withhold this type of personal information, too. Not everyone likes to interact with social media in the same way; not everyone is overtly political. Some people just like to post cool pictures and funny memes on social media, and I think that’s okay.

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