The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

Is “Instagram Activism” Activism?

Aerial+photo+of+the+Amazon+fire.+Photo+courtesy+of+CARL+DE+SOUZA%2FAFP%2FGetty+Images
Aerial photo of the Amazon fire. Photo courtesy of CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images

Reposting Issues Does Not Solve Them

Nikki Harris and Rachel Wilson

Instagram has designed and promoted itself as a tool to escape the daily monotony of our lives. Teenagers use it to brag about their summer trip to Italy or for a dramatic birthday post filled with humiliating pictures. Yet, Instagram has evolved into a platform to advocate for social justice.

A viral post about media coverage of a current crisis, injustice to a minority, or even a dubious solution to climate change is impossible to avoid when reposts are constantly circulating Instagram stories of teenagers. 

We read these posts and often wonder what the intentions are. Is it desperate, eventual voters trying to spread a message to like-minded others? Or is it sanctimonious teenagers flaunting their so-called “wokeness”?

Recently, pictures of the Amazon forest fires–proven to be years old–spread  on Instagram. These posts were designed to inflame and alarm, not to inform. In this case, social media beat the news media with speed of coverage, but not with accuracy of coverage. 

A photo on Leonardo Dicaprio’s Instagram of the Amazon Rain Forest burning that was also shared by France’s Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron. CNN found the picture on a website published in 2018. 

The rapid circulation of these posts shows political motivation among teenagers. However, the news they are subjected to is uninformed and slanted with partisan bias and false facts. 

Students these days are reluctant to reach for newspapers for information or fact-check their sources. Convenience for this generation is key, and Instagram combines social interaction and political issues all in one place; newspapers do not. 

The biggest problem with these posts is that they usually do not offer hands-on solutions to the issues. This is usually related to the disinformation or simply lack of information that is offered. 

Instagram accounts have taken advantage of the gullibility of these social activists by creating posts that claim they will give a meal to every child in Sudan or that they will plant a tree for every reshare the post receives. These accounts never provide sources or verification that any of these things will happen.

This is where the news media comes in. If journalists are seeking change to the gerontocracy of the US democracy, they have to give these eager social activists the resources and steps to carry this into the real world. 

It’s great that teenagers want to have an influence in the system, but promoting awareness with a few clicks, while not putting forth time or effort to fix the issues is unproductive and dangerous if students act on this disinformation.  

Social media companies can be held accountable for the biases and disinformation. They use specific algorithms that show users what they want to see. This ultimately deepens the political divide by conforming to users’ beliefs. 

One thing individuals can do to resist the enticement of partisan news that stems from social media is to “seek out a balanced and legitimate news diet,” said RealClearPolitics columnist A.B. Stoddard. 

No one can force you to start fact-checking all news you ingest. But once you stop relying on Instagram and other social media platforms as a source for your news, you will find yourself critically analyzing all sides of an issue. 

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Is “Instagram Activism” Activism?