For better or worse, social media has been a source of education as people have turned to their phones to guide them through this unprecedented time. It is important to recognize that there is no harm in learning from social media as long as you research what you take in before believing it to be accurate.
I can tell you that the article Great Aunt Millie shared on Facebook about alien dogs starting COVID-19 is inaccurate but please feel free to research it (and tell Great Aunt Millie what you find) before you share it.
It has been interesting to see how younger generations of social media users have turned to these platforms for updates on current events, specifically social activism.
Gen Z and Millennial platform users have popularized the creation and sharing of aesthetically-pleasing infographics that relay information. I am a fan of these infographics because they break down critical news into digestible content.
Pages like @so.informed are important considering how many Gen Z and Millennial members turn to social media for news. While the coveted solution to this problem would be to have young users turn to reputable news sources for information, the next best thing is having Instagram accounts provide information and cite reputable sources while doing it.
By citing sources, these pages are proving their reputability and encouraging young users to fact-check, read articles and stay up-to-date on national and global news.
I also can’t forget to mention Ben & Jerry’s, a brand known for their activism since their creation. Their website states the following regarding their mission: “We love making ice cream—but using our business to make the world a better place gives our work its meaning.”
I saw so many reposts of Ben & Jerry’s content as young people everywhere grappled with political turmoil, social unrest and the feeling of wanting to do something to help. Sharing these posts became a way of informing others during this time.
To hear more about the core values of Ben & Jerry’s, as well as the thoughts behind their activism, be sure to check out the latest episode of PR With The Pros featuring Sean Greenwood, director of public relations and communications at Ben & Jerry’s.
Aside from the impact of social media posts during this critical time in the United States, social media has proved to be invaluable to the people of Afghanistan during their time of crisis. Following the United States government’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan after a 20 year stand-off, the Taliban took over Kabul and other regions. This takeover has resulted in brutality, fear and uncertainty for the future of women and girls.
Young Afghan influencer @sheikhcrys has been able to educate others on what is happening in Afghanistan and how to help through her TikTok content. Her content directly resulted in an article about Afghan influencers from NBC News.
This use of social media by Afghan influencers is not only amplifying stories and imparting knowledge but ensuring that the conversation keeps circulating and evolving globally.
Social media can be a double-edged sword but the creative and powerful use of it throughout the past year and a half is something to be admired.
Cat Kalogeros is a communications and public relations double major at the University of Rhode Island. Cat is also pursuing double minors in English and writing and rhetoric. She currently serves as the 2021–2022 vice president of brand engagement for the PRSSA National Committee. Outside of PRSSA, Cat is the director of career and personal development for her chapter of Chi Omega. She aspires to use her public relations skills to tell stories in the entertainment industry. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.