Moving Beyond Hashtags: When #Blacklivesmatter Stops Trending on Social Media
by Christina Malecka
As someone passionate about tech-life balance and off-screen wellbeing, I have a love/hate relationship with social media.
Yet, over the past month I have learned so much from thinkers like Nicole Pearson, Sonya Renee Taylor, and Ijeoma Oluo who have challenged me to more deeply interrogate systemic racism and my responsibility to dismantle it.
There is no denying that social media has been a major catalyst for the Black Lives Matter movement, and for that I am deeply grateful.
At the same time, I am concerned about the powerful corporate interests working tirelessly to keep us addicted to their products, and the racism, sexism and other biases imbedded in digital platforms—platforms that are overwhelmingly created and maintained by White men. (To learn more about this, I urge you to read Safiya Umoja Noble’s book Algorithms of Oppression.)
The very nature of social media is that topics “trend” and then fade over time. What will we do when Black Lives Matter is no longer front and center on social media?
Are we following Black leaders, activists and thinkers to stay engaged for the long term? The brilliant Ijeoma Oluo warns us to “be wary of things that are purely symbolic“ and anything that allows you to do something that isn’t actually felt by people of color.
She says: “I always ask myself when I’m trying to do solidarity work, can the people I’m in solidarity with actually feel this? Can they spend this? Can they eat this? Does this actually help them in any way? And if it doesn’t, let it go.”
One of the dangers of social media is that our actions on it are often purely symbolic.
I am not personally saying that agents of oppression should not demonstrate accountability to, and solidarity with targets of oppression on social media. But is can’t stop there. We must make a regular commitment to inquiry and action, even after social media reminds us to do so. I think White America is waking up to this. I sure am.
I’ve been thinking a lot about humility and the freedom that comes with it: pausing, listening, reading and learning. What a relief to not have to cling to the White habit of striving for “expert” status.
Dismantling institutional racism is a marathon, not a sprint. It needs to be integrated into our lives along with our work, relationships, hobbies, leisure and spiritual practices. I love this incredible google doc compiled by Bryanna Wallace and Autumn Gupta that offers daily actions to support the Black Lives Matter movement while maintaining physical distancing in the time of COVID-19. Whether you have 10, 25 or 10 minutes a day, this resource will help us maintain momentum when BLM is no longer in the fickle social media and news cycle.
If you are like me, you have spent a LOT of time on your screens over the past month. This global pandemic still has us spinning and we are in the midst of a transformative cultural uprising led by Black Lives Matter.
We can’t look away, nor should we. But it’s also time for some respite from the constant flow of information and to step away from our screens to integrate new information.
CHRISTINA MALECKA is a community organizer turned Licensed Mental Health Counselor who brings over 25 years of experience with change-making, group facilitation, training and workshop development. She loves creating nurturing experiences and holding space for people, and was inspired to create her Digital Mindfulness Retreats after her own profound experience with digital detox and re-set.
Here are a couple of her upcoming offerings:
Out of Our Smartphones, Into Our Hearts
Join psychotherapist and Digital Wellbeing expert Christina Malecka on July 9 from 5 – 7pm for this two-hour experiential gathering to help you make the most of your offline time – not by rejecting technology – but by embracing evidence- and heart-based mindfulness and self-care practices designed to calm your nervous system, buoy your emotional health, and empower you to experience spacious screen-free time. This virtual event is offered in in partnership with East West Books.
Away Together: A Virtual Community Staycation
Could we make our homes so pleasure-inducing, so restful and so fun that we can feel like we’re on vacation without leaving the house? The answer is, yes! Join Digital Wellbeing experts Doreen Dodgen-Magee, Psy.D. and Christina Malecka, LMHC for a two-hour relaxing and educational Zoom experience followed by a complete day of rest, including an almost endless supply of tools and support to make it happen.