Social media often makes me feel as if I am sat precariously on the edge of chair. Do I understand and see the benefits that social media can have? Of course. However, as a black man, I see the ease in which it allows my culture to be picked apart, exploited and repacked for profit.
I see social media as a place where individuals can express their feelings, ideas and find commonality with others. A space to explore and share their creativity or a vehicle to further entertainment. A stage that allows topics such as identity, history, shared experiences and many others to float around. A place where you can simply have banter with friends and share pictures. However, I often find myself asking, are we making it easier to exploit our ideas?
Blackness on the internet does not seem to be able to escape the controls, stereotypes or even micro-aggressions. If ideas and creative pieces aren’t being stolen and repackaged, being used by large brands and influencers with huge followings. For over a decade the commoditisation and exploitation of ‘Black Culture’ has become more visible, mainly due to social media. Due to the transparency on social media we are arguably more aware of the theft or piggybacking of ideas. We can share the news at a click of a button and in some cases successful apply pressure to brands and influencers to rethink their position. However, it doesn’t change the fact social media makes it easier for them to do so. We are undoubtedly a focus of fascination and curiosity, the exotic ‘other’ that must be poked and prodded to the benefit of others.
I often toy around of the idea that we should stop using social media but quickly realise how ridiculous/impossible that sounds. I sometimes think we should apply pressure on every instance in which we see the theft of our culture but realise that just isn’t feasible. This is why I sit on edge of the chair precariously, because social media is full of uncertainties. While it can be seen as a vehicle to exploit us, I have seen first hand how it has also craved spaces for black individuals that would have otherwise not reached where they are now. I’ve witnessed how we have used it to mobilise others to make change and more importantly connect us to like minded individuals.
The question that’s always on my mind, how do we protect our blackness on social media?”