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The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

World issues are more than just a trend

Amaury Laporte/Wikimedia Commons
Surveys claim 55% of voters do not believe Congress should authorize additional funding to support Ukraine, a 7% decrease from this time last year, per Time Magazine.

Many social media users become self-proclaimed “activists” during the COVID-19 pandemic when the whole world’s attention was on social justice — and used the technology they had at their fingertips to their advantage.

Since most college-aged people were in high school at the time, we posted on Instagram, made “moving” videos on TikTok and did everything we could to show our support about real issues we didn’t understand because we were adolescents. This was truly the beginning of a dangerous phenomenon: turning serious issues into trends.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, and according to GoogleTrends, searches for “Ukraine” were at an all-time high during that time, but have decreased ever since. Similarly, when the war in Ukraine was “trending,” Instagram Reels about the war received between 200,000 and 3 million views, but now they’re getting roughly 50,000 views.

Why did publicity decrease?

It’s because when the news broke that Russia invaded Ukraine and we saw the destruction, we showed our support through social media. But now that it’s not occupying our feeds, “For You” page on TikTok or Instagram Reels, many people don’t give it much thought.

This issue hits home for Olga Caracciolo. Caracciolo is Ukrainian and has a daughter who attends Quinnipiac University. She finds the lack of interest in the destruction of the country hurtful. In an interview with The Chronicle, Caracciolo explained why mixing politics with social media can present issues.

“It is normal human behavior to try to shield from constant bad news,” Caracciolo said. “I can not blame anyone, but (I am) always trying to draw attention to this topic, and maybe if only just one person listened and dug a bit deeper to understand it, I am satisfied.”

Caracciolo said that nobody wants to pay attention to the war in Ukraine anymore, but American politicians hoping to win elections will use it to their advantage. Then, if they get elected, Caracciolo said politicians don’t do anything about the issue they “supported” in their campaign.

“Does (the) media want you to not pay attention to the topic in Ukraine? Yes,” Caracciolo said. “However, on (a) personal level, I feel a lot of attention and sympathy to this topic.”

How much can we say we actually care when we don’t as individuals do anything to help?

I’m sure there are people who have no idea what is going on in Ukraine, but hate Vladimir Putin because it’s the popular mindset. This isn’t wrong, it just isn’t a personal opinion because it’s influenced by society. When it comes to current issues, nobody is truly educated on them, individuals just conform to groupthink, where we all follow the pack.

Of course, we should support Ukraine. However, it shows that only when many people are articulating their support, others do the same. After celebrities support issues, the general public will follow. This isn’t a bad thing, but it can be when the general public only thinks of serious issues as trends that they can participate in. This goes for many social issues, past and present.

Likewise, some only supported the Black Lives Matter movement when it was “trending.” Do you remember when black screens with the hashtag #blackouttuesday flooded the internet in 2020 for Black Lives Matter?

Following the murder of of George Floyd, many went to social media to show their support for racial justice and posts gained an immense amount of traction, bringing more awareness to the issue. While some protested on streets and used their voices, many teenagers simply took to TikTok and Instagram to express their support.

This was great when Black Lives Matter was trending because it brought a lot of attention to an important issue. But what about when it stopped? Support became increasingly quiet as it decreased in popularity.

NBC News found in a poll that “support for the Black Lives Matter movement peaked in June 2020 at 52%, a month after Floyd was killed.” However, it also found that, “Since then, public support to Black Lives Matter has continue to decline.” A poll conducted by the site shows an 8% decrease of support for the cause in less than two years

Does anyone know the name Irvo Otieno? He was a Black man who suffered with mental illness and was suffocated to death in custody of Richmond, Virginia police on March 6, after an altercation, but no one knows his name. If people cared as much as they said they did, they would continue to support these issues.

With Black Lives Matter, most posted  about the issue three years ago and then forgot about it. Many contributors to the trend were in high school at the time, so they were limited on the actions they could take. But what about now? What’s stopping people from protesting, fundraising and even sharing social media posts that we had no problem sharing years ago? As kids, posting online was the most we could do, but why not take the extra step now that we’re adults and be more proactive?

For a lot of us, we can live our lives without thinking about these social injustices. But far too many people have been affected by them firsthand. Floyd and Otieno’s family will always have a piece of them missing. The same goes for those that died in the war in Ukraine. To many people, violence and destruction is not just an issue on social media — it’s their lives.

As Caracciolo says, “Always start with yourself: ‘What can I do? How can I change it?’ Small steps make (the) biggest difference.” We must ask ourselves, ‘How can I make a difference?’”

There are so many organizations and fundraisers that you can donate to or become an advocate for. Taking the extra step doesn’t have to be a donation, it could be simply educating yourself on what’s really going on in the world. Put your phone down and turn on the news. We have to go that extra step, because we never know when we could fall victim to an injustice ourselves.

If you’re looking for a place to get started, here are some of the many organizations that help the victims of Ukraine:

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Lillian Curtin
Lillian Curtin, Opinion Editor

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