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Meanwhile, on social media

Updated: Aug 28, 2020

For most people around the world, everyday activities such as shopping, exercise and socialising are taking place via social media. Most recently, we’ve seen activism play out online too, and with an intensity that may not have occurred if it weren’t for lockdown. We thought it time to look at some of the latest social media movements and trends that have been bubbling up lately.

Just as The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is continuing to highlight how easily celebrities can miss the mark, or conversely, win over even more fans, influencers are navigating the new political reality with mixed results. The influencing industry exists to market and advertise brands. As we collectively move to educate ourselves about fast fashion, company ethics and vital social justice movements like BLM, influencers are doing the same – only under a microscope. Journalist Hannah Ewens asks, “how can a more politically conscious movement happen among influencers when their job is to centre themselves?”. Some believe that influencers should hand over their accounts to other creators who are embedded in the social justice movement, similar to some Australian influencers who recently handed over their Instagram platforms to BIPOC creatives to help amplify Indigenous voices. Influencers are also being urged to interrogate their own practices thoroughly if they want to become more socially conscious on their feeds. For example, posting black squares but quickly returning to sell brands that exploit sweatshop labour feels dissonant. Others are legitimately doing the work to educate themselves, taking on feedback and criticism and building trust with followers. How brands constructively, positively, and genuinely work with influencers shifting their content to social justice, will be one to watch.

TikTok has now surpassed 2 billion all-time global downloads across iOS and Android devices after a record-setting Q1 in which it saw 315 million installs. However, it has come under criticism for its algorithm, which suppresses black creators. It’s also become a platform for racist content. Despite this, TikTok has lately become a teaching tool for black creators, who are using the platform to educate users about racial injustice. From history lessons to skits dispelling crime rate myths, it is quickly becoming an accessible tool for activism.

Lastly a final (wholesome, yet strange) internet trend we’ve noticed exists on Facebook groups. Since early March, a private Facebook group titled simply “A group where we all pretend to be ants in an ant colony” has attracted more than 1.8 million members. The premise is at it sounds – people role-play as ants in a variety of ways. Most of those posts consist of images of food with captions like “help me bring this to The Queen!” to which other users comment “LIFT” or “HELP".

Source: NBC News

In another Facebook group, A group where we all work at the same Woolworths, fictional employees of the supermarket discuss timesheets, artistic produce displays and product developments. For example, a woman posts "How did everyone's performance reviews go?" and people reply with comments including "I got told to stop offering 3 year warranties on the roast chickens"...Why the trend? The rise of online role playing during COVID-19 is no coincidence, explains one psychologist. It's normal for people to crave social interaction, to seek out a psychologically safe space and decompress by playing games. Far from being ant-isocial, internet users are finding creative ways to connect.

Written by Molly Bruce

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