Social Media in the 21st Century; A Virtue or a Vice

Tavon Harris, IUP

Social media takes the same social skills we have used for thousands of years. Many of the modern social activities and events even suggest that we as Americans rely even more heavily on social media to do just about everything. We see how technology has eliminated our need or desire to search in-depth for things we do not know. Often times our eyes are focused on our phones rather than social interactions with friends or employers. In a technological world we are slowly becoming "tools" by which the old way of doing just about everything is controlled through Internet and media. In the African American culture, we take a look at how media can portray us even in the most unfortunate situations, and usually those are the only ones that catch most of our attention. Great examples include how violence amongst African Americans and police is almost always referred back to how blacks have an image portrayed by media as being unruly, incompetent and unable to listen to authority of any kind. While we frequently hear common clichés such as, "no media is bad media," demoralizing not only an individual but that individual’s group demonstrates a lack of respect. In the famous Dred Scott case, we see how the image integrity and rights of the black man went fully unrecognized. Chief Supreme Court Justice Robert Tanny emphatically said, “The constitution was not built with Africans in mind.” He went on to say, “The black man would never have rights that the white men were bound to respect.”

As we check ourselves, we often see ourselves being portrayed in a negative way that what we do in society is wrong. We are treated as problems instead of as people; nonetheless we as a society are behind in our thinking, and it is our job to change this mindset going forward. We are created for so much more than poster children of nothingness and a reputation of rebellion. Many images of Black celebrities, such as rappers and actors are, exclusive to negative encounters with media. Our job as a people is to be mindful of what we ourselves respond to and put on our own social networks. More often than not, we demoralize ourselves and one another far before anyone else has the opportunity to. I believe our generation has dwelt on and glamorized what social media and pseudoscience wanted us to. As leaders we have to assert that we are a strong society whose history, whether recognized or not, is one of the greatest stories ever told.