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Why Your Newsfeed Has Been a Battleground This Week

The Facebook newsfeed: a vast chasm of filtered photos, not-so-humble brags, and general appeals for “likes.” Once in a while, this general composition of the average newsfeed shifts to include a great deal of content focusing on a particular issue—something social and/or political that strikes a chord with our Facebook friends. While at Trinity, you’ve seen it more times than you can count. There is outrage over the college’s social policy. There was KONY 2012. The presidential election caused its usual stir. Now the U.S. Supreme Court has begun proceedings to determine the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage for federal purposes as between a man and a woman. Suddenly your Facebook newsfeed has turned red.

Another natural phenomenon that goes hand in hand with the aforementioned content shift is the emergence of the cynics. You’ve seen the status. Suddenly everyone’s a political activist. Social activism on Facebook—that’s the sh*t I don’t like. To these people I (respectfully) say, “Shut up”.

That being said, these cynics aren’t super villains. If you’re one of them, I do sort of apologize, as I normally wouldn’t use the “S-U combo” (thanks, Mom for this euphemism). We all peruse Facebook in an effort to mentally check out from a busy day of class, homework, and other stress. I understand that it can be unpleasant to be bombarded with the sometimes-ranting status updates of someone who lived down the hall from you in Jones freshman year. When it comes to taking issue with your Facebook friends changing their profile pictures to the Human Rights Campaign red logo in support of marriage equality, however, I stand by my original use of the S-U combo.

I don’t think that anyone who changed their profile picture this week to this logo believed they were strongly influencing a Supreme Court decision. The point was to show everyone they are connected with on Facebook, from closest friends and family to the random hall mate from Jones, that they support the rights of the LGBT community. The act of changing a profile picture is a small but meaningful act of solidarity. This is not a senseless rant of a status update.

Facebook is a powerful tool for our generation. It’s how we connect. It’s how we show what’s important to us, through the photos we post of the people we love to the links we share about things that matter to us. Marraige equality has been one of those things and I personally believe that a show of support on this platform is a smart, productive use of social media.

For those who disagree with me, I’m certain that someone somewhere is still posting selfies so you can take comfort in that.

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