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Instagram Meets Activism: A Call To Action Is A Call To Post

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at WVU chapter.

Scrolling through your Instagram feed every day, you most likely come across various posts saying, “Wear your mask!” or “Support Black Lives!” Looking back to 2019, these posts would rarely appear on my screen. A majority of posts would concern a meme or a cute outfit a model wore. However, my screen is now flooded with calls to action. While 2020 has been one heck of a year, it has changed the layout of social media. With a pandemic shutting down the country for a majority of the year and a civil rights movement that has generated heated political debate, there is a lot to absorb and post about.

Celebrities not known for their political activism have taken to posting messages to their followers, encouraging them to support movements across the country.

E! News displayed a variety of celebrities wearing shirts in support of arresting the cops who killed Breonna Taylor. Some celebs mentioned were Amy Schumer and Mandy Moore. E! News, a celebrity news outlet, would typically only create content that informed followers about celebrity breakups, gossip and fashion. However, over the course of the last few months, they too have taken to creating content directed at the hot political climate that has taken hold in America. They have also created posts with celebrities wearing masks and pushing for followers to do the same. 

While the entertainment industry has had a large influence on the call to action on Instagram, many civilians have also taken to posting in support of different causes. On my own feed, I see friends and family posting selfies in their masks saying, “If I can wear a mask, then you can too.” They post news articles explaining the need for social distancing and sanitizing. These posts show me content about Covid-19 that I would never actively search for on my own. The accounts that I follow, whether they are friends or a news outlet, provide me with meaningful information about the pandemic and social issues. On June 2, my feed was filled with black screens in support of Black Lives Matter. Blackout Tuesday managed to make its way to almost every account I follow. People who rarely post took on the movement and also posted a black screen. 

While this call to action has been able to reach millions of people, there can be backlash. People in today’s world have so many varying viewpoints, and at times, ideals collide. I have seen people come together to support each other, but I have also seen people come together to put each other down. By commenting hate slurs and insults, these people attempt to make the ideas in a post irrelevant and inferior to their own ideas. However, the call to post continues, and so does the fight to rise up against hate. People continue to take action. 

At West Virginia University, students used Instagram to come together to form a peaceful protest in response to the death of George Floyd. In the days leading up to the protest, students asked each other to join the Black Lives Matter movement and protest. On June 6, the students gathered together in downtown Morgantown. Mirage Magazine, WVU’s campus magazine, took to Instagram with photos that captured images from the protest, as well as asking supporters to help contribute to the movement by donating to the Black Visions Collective, an organization that supports Black lives and gives them opportunities to thrive.  

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These are some photos that our team gathered from their experiences protesting the death of George Floyd. While we are each doing our part individually, we felt that it was important that we show our support as as an organization. We’ve donated $100 of our money to Black Visions Collective. This is money that we raised for our NYC trip that had to be canceled due to COVID-19, and we couldn’t think of a better place for our money to go. Black Visions Collective is an amazing organization that works to make, not only, all Black lives matter, but also be able to thrive. We are so grateful we were able to support such an amazing organization and movement, and we will continue to show our support. If you’re able, please join us in donating to Black Visions Collective and other organizations helping the cause. Sign the petitions you see. And vote! Together, we can overcome the injustices the Black community continues to face at the hands of our racist system. #blacklivesmatter

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From the start of 2020, Instagram has taken on a new roll. It has transformed from a photo-sharing app to a news outlet that not only allows big companies and those with large platforms to influence others, but ordinary people as well. 

Lani Beaudette is a sophomore at West Virginia University majoring in Journalism in the honors college. In addition to writing for Her Campus, she writes for Mirage Magazine and is the Social Media Coordinator at the Media Innovation Center on campus. In her free time, Lani enjoys reading, working out and hanging with her sisters in AOII
Rachel is a graduate student at WVU majoring in journalism with minors in Appalachian studies, history and political science. In addition to writing for Her Campus, she is also a publicity intern for Arts and Entertainment and a news intern for Univerisity Relations. She is from Princeton, West Virginia and loves her state and its beautiful mountains. She is passionate about many things including dogs, musicals and the Mountaineers.