Late July—August, 2014: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feeds flood with friends in bathing suits dumping ice water on their heads as they call on one another to #StrikeOutAls.
“Damn. This is awesome,” I think to myself, “This is why I love being a Millennial—this is why I love social media.” I don’t care that half the people taking on the Ice Bucket Challenge probably don’t know what amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is—I don’t care that so many are clearly just capitalizing on an opportunity to show off their tanned beach bods and chic backyards. I am, simply, stoked to see that the various social media platforms upon which I pray are being put to good use. Come mid-September, and the ASLA has received over $114 million in donations. Pretty impressive, right? Wrong. Very, very impressive. Almost unbelievable when I learn that the organization collected just $5 million in 2013 during that same time period. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter have made ALS trend as hard as Kylie Jenner’s collagen—we, the self-obsessed, digitized iGeneration, have used our handles do some real good.
Early January, 2015: Snapchat mourns the lives of 17 French citizens killed in the terrorist attack on Paris-based newspaper Charlie Hebdo and the murderous chaos that ensues with a live feed that connects me to the site of the tragedy. My heart bleeds. #JeSuisCharlie.
“Damn. This is awesome,” I think to myself, “This is why I love being a Millennial—this is why I love social media.” I don’t care that these dining hall conversations about freedom of speech are probably only happening because a sexting app is making this massacre impossible to ignore—I don’t care that so many are plugged in only because 10-seconds-or-less videos are just long enough to sustain otherwise absent interest. I am, simply, stoked to see that this stupid damn app—which is, btw, my preferred social media platform because I’m a joke—is inspiring 10-seconds-or-less of giving a shit. I am, simply, stoked to see my Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feeds flood with friends of all colors caring enough to share.
June 17, 2015: A white gunman shoots nine Black church-goers dead in Charleston, South Carolina. Crickets. Fucking crickets. No one cares—no one shares.
Well, some people share. The same people—overwhelmingly Black and Brown, of course—who always share. The same people who—despite attack after attack on their “weekend activism”—always share article after article, statistic after statistic, poem after poem so that maybe, this time, other people will share, too. So that maybe, this time, other people will care enough about today’s cruel reminder that Slavery Is Not Dead to share an article. A statistic. A poem, too. So that maybe, this time, other people will care enough about one more merciless manifestation of the institutional racism that is so radically alive and vibrant in this country to share.
But, no. No #StrikeOutWhiteSupremacy. No #JeSuisCharleston. No hype. No conversation. No Snapchat live feeds or uber-hashtags. No one cares—no one shares.
June 19, 2015: Two days after a white devil opens fire on Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church’s Wednesday night bible study, slaughtering nine Black congregators. One day after this white devil is apprehended by police who protect his body with a bullet proof vest, careful not to pinch his wrists with the cold clamp of handcuffs. Crickets. Fucking crickets. No one cares—no one shares.
If you don’t know, read. If you don’t care, fine. I don’t really care if you don’t care. I already knew that. I already knew that and already didn’t really care, just like I didn’t really care when you didn’t really care about ALS or Charlie, but you shared anyway. I don’t even really care if, deep down in that shallow, sad heart, you don’t really think #BlackLivesMatter. Pretend. Fake it. Share. Redeem a tiny part of your willful ignorance by pretending to care enough to share so that maybe, this time, other people will care enough to share, too. It’ll look good on your social resume, I promise. It’ll look good that you care enough to share, I promise. And if you don’t care enough to do anything real—if you don’t care enough to sit and listen and learn and change—then just share, goddammit, so that maybe, this time, you’ll inspire activism in someone who will grow to care for real.
June 17, 2015: White Gunman Shoots 9 Black Church-Goers Dead In Charleston, South Carolina. No One “Shares.”