One thing that we briefly touched on in last week’s class that got me thinking after leaving was the impact that social media has had on civil issues. Having a new platform for people to express their opinions and ideas on is something that has had a huge impact on the world and how people see it over the last couple of decades, and empowering anyone with a cell phone and a data plan to capture things they see and share them has taken on new meaning. We are able to go beyond simply sharing thoughts and ideas, but also capture live events as they happen. This particularly comes to mind in the case of Eric Garner, a 43-year old father and husband who was killed in what started off as a routine police stop.
There are many things that Mr. Garner’s death touched on, including race relations in America, the use of deadly force by police, and the relationship between police and families in low income neighborhoods, just to name a few. But one thing I think we can all agree on is that without the now prevalent use of amateur journalism and the popularity of social media, we would never have known anything about this case. I do not know a ton about how the mainstream media operates, but I am willing to bet that there are powerful people that heavily influence the types of things that show up on the news, and something tells me that this is not a case that would have gotten the type of attention it did if it was not brought to the public the way it was.
What started with the sharing of information, in this case a video of the attack that led to Mr. Garner’s death, has given fuel to the “Black Lives Matter” movement that has spread all across the country. Athlete’s have had silent (and not so silent) protests, and even received backing from President Obama. Everyone can have their own opinions on this particular case itself, but the impact social media has had on the world is undeniable.