Opinion: Social media is romanticizing a global crisis

WSPNs+Delia+Caulfield+discusses+people+bringing+awareness+to+social+issues+on+social+media+and+the+lack+of+action+that+comes+as+a+result.

Credit: Delia Caulfield

WSPN’s Delia Caulfield discusses people bringing awareness to social issues on social media and the lack of action that comes as a result.

Delia Caulfield

Every April 22 passes like clockwork. The minute you open a social media application on your phone, you are most likely bombarded by a flood of circular profiles surrounded by a red border painted across the screen. As you click through the abundance of stories, you are flashed by the slides upon slides of vibrant, bright – and possibly highly edited – photos of the earth.

With every click and swipe, I am overcome by the amount of people who are caring and passionate about spreading awareness to Earth’s fragile state on this day of recognition. This is good, right? These people definitely care about the daunting issue of global climate change and are advocating for change on a public platform.

Right?

Or, are they just taking advantage of an opportunity to boast about their illustrious travels around the world? You see, people are so quick to showcase this important event for their abundance of followers, but when it comes to spreading awareness in the real world, they fall silent.

I see no problem with this, as posting photos from your isolated and industrialized resort in the Caribbean is at least bringing attention to the beauty that our Earth holds. However, it is the lack of responsibility and action that comes when the clock strikes midnight on April 23.

To be clear, this definitely does not apply to everyone who took to social media on Earth Day, as the number of individuals who genuinely care about making an impact – especially among young people – is very promising. This is the main reason why there is so much hope for the future generations of the world, as our advocacy skills have increased throughout time, as many of our youth strive to be well-informed and act upon social issues impacting our world.

However, it is important to call out those individuals who put up a facade online yet fail to take a stand when the issue presents itself in the real world.

As social media platforms have grown throughout the years, so have the societal norms. In 2020, it was reported that a whopping 72% of Americans have used at least one social media platform. Whether this be Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or even LinkedIn, this proves once and for all that social media is swiftly taking over our world.

It’s common to post on your Instagram story for Mothers Day, write words of affirmation on Facebook for a birthday or even film a fun TikTok video during a hangout with friends. No one thinks much of this, as these public displays of what seems to be affection towards others is so normalized.

But, it’s so easy. It’s so easy to build that picture-perfect profile that is magnetic towards your peers, adults and even complete strangers. So easy to convey the “hey, my life is so great” message even if it is far from it.”

— Delia Caulfield

But, it’s so easy. It’s so easy to build that picture-perfect profile that is magnetic towards your peers, adults and even complete strangers. So easy to convey the “hey, my life is so great” message even if it is far from it.

I mean, we should have control over how others perceive us, but not at the expense of subjecting ourselves to living a lie. Social media isn’t a true reflection on who a person is and what they believe in. It never will be.

So, the million dollar question is: are these people posting out of concern or out of obligation?

The debate between these two motives seems to be very clear cut; however, the margin has been slowly diminishing, and it is terrifying. It is terrifying that our society turns to the media instead of each other to be “advocates.” Social media will never measure up to the power of the masses.

So, every time you press “add to story” or tap on the “tweet” button in the top corner of your phone, be sure to take into consideration what you are actually advertising. An empowering call to action? Or just another glimpse into American materialism masked underneath a global issue?