Tue. Jun 28th, 2022

Social and mainstream media outlets have further divided us instead of bringing us together this year. At the time I am typing this, I and many other Americans are eagerly awaiting the results of the 2020 presidential election. For the past few months, social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram have become warzones for people on both sides of the political spectrum. No matter who wins, some people will be celebrating, and some people will be condemning the outcome. As the pandemic drags on, we will continue to argue about the need to wear a mask.

Every time I scroll through a social media platform, I almost always find an argument in the comment section of an Instagram post of a meme about the current state of 2020 or an argument in a Twitter thread about the presidential election. This is a normality that we’ve had to live with for the past four years, and there is no sign that it is going to get any better. When the pandemic was beginning to gradually get worse and worse earlier this year, there was a joint effort separately conducted by major brands and companies we encounter every day. These “stay at home” campaigns, which encouraged us to unite and do our part to end the spread of the coronavirus, were conducted by brands such as McDonald’s, Nike, Burger King, YouTube (which had a rocky start) and many more.

While all of these ads were thrown in front of our faces, we were more concerned with the state of the country; as COVID-19 cases kept rising, the presidential race was becoming more intense and protests against police brutality were starting to unfold throughout the country. All of these events have resulted in the United States becoming divided in a way I never thought I would ever experience. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have an argument here and there with my family about the protests or the election. I would also be lying if I said I haven’t read the thousands upon thousands of posts and comments on social media regarding young Americans that fall into the “Gen Z” category describing the ideological war that is going on inside their homes. It seems that the media is to blame because of how they are covering these events.

An article provided by the Pew Research Center claimed that two-thirds of the American population believe that social media has a mostly negative effect on the current events that are happening in the United States. The article, written by Brooke Auxier, states: “Those who have a negative view of the impact of social media mention, in particular, misinformation and the hate and harassment they see on social media. They also have concerns about users believing everything they see or read — or not being sure about what to believe.” The “fake news” phenomenon is a real problem, and it is what seems to have sparked the tumultuous tension in various American households and demographics regarding the topics that have been covered this year. In addition, many social media platforms, such as Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat, have pushed numerous ads starring various celebrities encouraging Americans to either “vote” or “stay home and stay safe,” which have not been received well. It appears the average U.S. citizen typically sees many celebrities that are in the limelight today, such as Lady Gaga, Kylie Jenner, Sam Smith, Beyoncé and many others as being extremely disconnected with what the average American cares about.

This is not to say that the aforementioned celebrities should not express their opinions, but it is becoming increasingly obvious that less and less people are interested in hearing them. For example, the infamous “Imagine” video with many celebrities such as Gal Gadot, Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Sarah Silverman, etc. is seen as extremely tone deaf. In fact, Gadot finally opened up recently about why she understands the criticism towards the video happened. In the article from “Bustle,” Gadot spoke with Vanity Fair and explained that, “Sometimes, you know, you try and do a good deed and it’s just not the right good deed. I had nothing but good intentions and it came from the best place, and I just wanted to send light and love to the world.” While the video may have been well-intentioned, it could have been released at a much better time, or may have been better off not being released at all.

As for the division we have been seeing throughout the year on social media, whether it be racial tensions, political discourse, the need to wear a mask or the generations of Americans at war with each other, the advice I can give to you is this: put your phone down, find something you like to do and use it as a way to temporarily escape all of the stress this year has caused us. 2020 is definitely not the year we all thought it was going to be, but it is so important to find a way to turn a negative into a positive. For example, when the pandemic started, I spent even less time than I usually would have on social media, and put most of my focus on my passion for music and music production, while I, and many others, were beginning to adjust to finishing the spring semester online and quarantining for many months. Although you should not turn a blind eye to the unfortunate rut that 2020 has put us in, take a moment to reflect on the good things that have happened to us, no matter how big or small they may be.

 

John Zurzola is a third-year Media and Culture major.

 

References

Auxier, B. (2020, October 15). 64% of Americans say social media have a mostly negative effect on the way things are going in the U.S. today. Retrieved from Pew Research Center website: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/10/15/64-of-americans-say-social-media-have-a-mostly-negative-effect-on-the-way-things-are-going-in-the-u-s-today/

Emmanuele, J. (2020, October 13). Gal Gadot Understands Why People Didn’t Like Her “Imagine” Video. Retrieved November 5, 2020, from Bustle website: https://www.bustle.com/entertainment/gal-gadot-responde

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