Black squares start to fill Instagram feeds, just to disappear in a couple of weeks. Black images start to become profile pictures, just to get changed back to vacation pictures within a couple of days. How did it go from number 1 trending to only a few people having to remind others that Black Lives still matter every day? The one hit wonder of 2020.
Everyone was so passionate about BLM when it first started showing up in social media and on the news. I remember going to watch TV, something I never used to do, just to hear about what was going on around this topic. Everything was always fresh in everyone’s minds. Every 10-15 minutes I remember seeing new posts. It made me happy to see people talk about their opinions and what they believed was right. There were links to hundreds of fundraisers and ways we could help simply by putting information out there for people to read about. Even protests were all over Snapchat, as if it was a show that came on every day. Signs and posters popped up on neighbors’ lawns saying “BLM ” just so their houses wouldn’t get trashed. Some of the folks putting up these signs were the same people that wouldn’t look me in the eye as I walked on the sidewalk alongside them.
I noticed things started to die down as summer came to an end. All those black squares were gone. I stopped tuning into the news as protests weren’t happening as often as they had been over summer. Simple things such as links and ways to help families and businesses affected—they had all disappeared. It’s crazy how much of a start we had back in May compared to where we are now. It’s sad to think that something as important as someone’s life getting taken away was just a trend, a way for somebody to get a couple of likes.
(The people I chose to interview for this topic both chose to remain anonymous. To respect their wishes, names will not be shared)
Months have gone by as we’re now in 2021, and for most people BLM hasn’t been talked about in a while. I came to notice only a couple of people that I feel were and still are passionate about what’s going on.
“People only do things to please the eyes of others, posting about a black man that was killed so that your friends don’t think you’re a racist just to delete it because it doesn’t match the theme of your instagram feed,” a Portland high schooler stated.
This has been the main issue I feel with social media now: things are important when everyone’s doing it, but as soon as others stop or you get bored with it, suddenly it’s no longer important. Of course, this isn’t what all social media is about right now, but throughout the last couple years it’s happening more. And it’s sad because we watched people—our own peers—say they weren’t going to let this become the trend of the year, and look at what happened.
“My classmates in school would show up to a few protests that were being held in their neighbourhoods just to take pictures, post and leave 20 minutes after. I’m in college and this is a time where I thought people had matured from making things like this happen, but it seems as if I’m back in 2016. There are more hashtags than words,” another anonymous source said.
This got to me because I remember the spark of protest in 2016. At the time, I was in 8th grade and it’s sad—I can barely remember why things were happening but I do remember the trend of it all. It shouldn’t be an obligation to post about what’s going on in the world, especially for those who choose to stay off social media. It also shouldn’t be just your Black friends talking about it and doing something about it. Even then, Black people shouldn’t have to worry about having to advocate for themselves. If you’re really an ally, help and advocate. Let’s not make this another trend in 2021. This should be something we talk about every day. Black Lives are not just a trend.