Provocative posts and problematic pettiness
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Interim Opinions Editor
Social justice is a very important issue that almost everyone should care more about and devote more time to. Helping the marginalized in our society and acknowledging the structures of privilege, patriarchy, and economic inequality that dominate our culture goes a long way towards making the world a better place. The conversation needs to be had, and addressing difficult topics is essential to actually changing anything.
With all that said, the ways social justice issues are depicted on Facebook are enough to make me never want to advocate—or care about—any issue ever again. Daily, I see enough provocative images, videos, and posts showing the absolute worst of humanity. Stories of sexual assault, miscarriages of justice, racist incidents, tragedies befalling refugees, and many other hot-button, controversial issues crowd our social media feeds. Facebook has admitted to deliberately changing the algorithm so that sensitive, inflammatory posts are more likely to be seen by users. Issues that are divisive and extreme on both sides of the spectrum now dominate our feeds, causing anger and tension.
The posts are almost always shocking, and can be fear-mongering, depressing, or shaming. They are often graphic, brief, and biased in their nature. They exist to get us talking about important issues, but are presented in a way that may not give all the facts of a situation, be out of context, or even be deliberately misleading.
Facebook is now a place to go if you didn’t feel depressed or angry enough about the many problems of the world today. The conversations need to be had, but there is such a thing as an oversaturation of serious topics. Doom-and-gloom seems to be a never-ending trend in 2016, and Facebook is a big part of the problem.
It’s not just that the information presented is upsetting and provocative. In many cases, it’s misinformation, or it’s skewed to fit a certain perception. The horrible things in the world have complicated causes, and they cannot be boiled down to a couple of paragraphs posted on social media. Sure, ISIS beheads children, and it’s actually one of the worst things in the world—but their reasons for flourishing and spreading these actions go far beyond any outrage your friend has with the situation.
All of us can use a little more privilege-checking and awareness that Bad Things are happening in the wider world. We can also use proper education and reality checks for what can be controlled by us, and how we can actually help. We can’t solve all the problems of the world, and we shouldn’t be expected to feel burdened by them every time we log on. We can be advocates, and we can be informed citizens—but it doesn’t mean we have to turn our Facebook feeds into cesspools of misery.