Can Social Media Teach Us? Why Buzzfeed’s Stanford Victim Post Is Important
I woke up this morning and did what I usually do: I checked my phone to see if I’ve missed anything important. I check texts, emails, and then head to social media for news and to check my boss’s social media. I noticed Gary tweeted something out of the ordinary for him. If it’s unrelated to business, marketing, social media, or the Jets, Gary generally does not post publicly on other topics he might have thoughts and feelings on. I knew that meant it was big.
Here’s the tweet:
Then, I read the article. Everyone should read it. If you’re asking me why, then you should definitely be reading it.
I started writing this Medium on the important societal questions about consent and privilege the letter raised. As I watched the article go viral, something else caught my attention: the social media responses.
I’ve been watching so many people share this story and react in such heartfelt ways throughout the day. However, it’s the people who don’t get it, who concern me.
If this letter can be used for change, it has to be done now.
At the time of writing this, the Buzzfeed article has over 3.6 million views and counting. While I’m glad these issues are being seen (and hopefully, processed) by millions of people, some of the subtweets and responses are disconcerting. I’ve read joke tweets about some of the lines in this letter and comments that make no logical sense. I read a whole thread where a guy tried to blame the person who served the alcohol. I read threads where patient souls took the time to try to explain or debate with some of these folks.
I won’t bother “outing” those tweets here, but it’s clear that so many people are missing the big picture. They are the audience that needs to understand this the most.
Yes, most people who have shared have been women and every joke comment I saw was from a man. This does not mean men are evil (many men have shared as well). What this means is, we have work to do.
What this means is, we have work to do.
How do we make sure everyone gets the point when the people usually bothering to read this type of headline are the ones who already get it?
There has to be a better way to get the message across to certain segments of the population without sounding preachy or holier than thou. It’s not enough to hope that someone who wouldn’t normally read this letter will read it because someone they follow posted it. If it’s not presented in the right way, the message just doesn’t sink in.
Here’s an opportunity for social media to actually make a real impact offline. Without social media, it might never have gotten the national attention it deserves. This letter should be discussed in schools. This teaching and learning should start early. I remember my sex ed class, but I don’t remember anyone teaching us about consent along with the explanation of how to use a condom. Getting this message out isn’t enough. We need to use it to have a productive conversation once it’s out there.
I remember my sex ed class, but I don’t remember anyone teaching us about consent along with the explanation of how to use a condom.
This letter is hot now, so now is the time for the conversation. Sexual assault is a serious, and unfortunately, ongoing issue. When something powerful really brings it to the forefront, we have to have the conversation today so we can continue the dialogue into the future.
In a time where algorithms try to manage what they think you want to see and there’s a constant stream of new posts in your social feeds, we really have to capitalize on the conversations that matter. Not just online, but offline. We need to recognize those moments and this is one of those moments.