This week’s readings were socially charged and took me a long time to digest and really dig through and reflect on American History. In attempt to stay objective about the issues presented, I will mainly focus on the role of social media in the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
In Castells’, Networks of Outrage and Hope, “Opening,” he talks about in times of political mistrust, there is a social movement, where on a very human level, people raise their voices. They set the agenda of our media by turning to the internet, to social media and collectively rise up what issues people are passionate about. Castells points out that the basis of his analysis lies on theory that 1) power is a construct of our society and 2) because of the inherently contradictory nature of society, there is always a counter-power to the power at hand. He also understands that people find meaning in communication, which is exactly what the internet allows people to do – communicate.
I found the article “In Ferguson, Photographs as Powerful Agents,” by Maurice Berger particularly interesting. Berger emphasizes on the use of photographs in the storytelling of the whole Ferguson incident. Reportage photography is nothing new, and has shown time and time again that photography as reportage is a powerful vehicle in public perception. Castells points out that “if many individuals fell humiliated, exploited, ignored, or misrepresented, they are ready to transform their anger into action.” An example of photography used as a transformation of anger into action is through the thousands of twitter users who turned to the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown. They used their photographs as a form of protest which very effectively brought to light the injustice of the framing of black lives in the media.
Other forms of protest are seen not only through Twitter, which is a major influencer in the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. YouTube accounts, Fusion and Sandy Speaks, take to Youtube as their form of social media. They speak out in a short video about their ideas on Black Lives Matter and the riots following Ferguson. To me, I consider them thought leaders, as well as prominent twitter accounts using the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, in demanding social justice, through the use of social media.
As we have seen, the internet has brought together a community of people, clearly outraged. Whether it is effective is not the discussion at hand, rather, we see how the natural flow of society has turned to the internet to find meaning and a community, and this cannot be ignored.