Your phone has the power to help curb gun violence.
I learned this when the non-profit organization Sandy Hook Promise released a video on Sept. 17 that reminded me of the gravity of our nation’s gun crisis.
The dramatized video starts out as any normal back-to-school commercial does: kids smiling and showing their supplies for the school year. But these supplies quickly turn into tools for survival when a shooter begins to open fire on students.
I never thought I’d see kids running for their lives or bleeding out in the hallways of their schools. My eyes sting with unshed tears every time I hear the young girl’s voice break as she realizes she may never see her parents again in that video.
Videos like this show just how easy it is to go from a normal day at school to becoming a victim or witness of needless and avoidable violence. I’ve never been so desperate to see sensible gun control, and social media, through videos like this, has the power to make that happen.
There were 94 incidents of gun violence in schools last year alone, making it the worst year on record for school gun violence, Vox News reported.
As a college student, my greatest fears should be having a low GPA or piles of student debt. In reality, it’s the possibility of dying.
And this is why social media videos similar to the Sandy Hook Promise commercial are so vital. It’s shocking and graphic, but that’s the point. They show our reality and offer a platform to talk about these topics.
Similarly, during the Feb. 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, frightened students filmed the tragedy happening right before their eyes on social media platforms like Snapchat so the world could see the calamity.
In the months following that shooting, survivors tweeted directly to their lawmakers and organized protests through social media. National media outlets, like CNN and Fox News, reported stories about their social media campaigns, Vanity Fair reported.
In 2013, David Glynn created a petition on Tumblr, calling on Congress to pass gun control legislation in the wake of the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Daily Dot reported. Within days the petition reached 25,000 signatures and prompted a video response from former President Barack Obama, according to a 2015 study by the University of South Florida, demonstrating how social media can facilitate social and political change.
These shootings required more than people’s thoughts and prayers. These victims and survivors deserve justice, and social media gave survivors the tools to work toward that justice. It allows us to challenge our culture’s desensitization toward gun violence.
“Unfortunately, school shootings have to compete with other news stories and often disappear from the headlines, and public conversation, quickly,” said Thomas Wright, an assistant professor of communication and social influence.
The news about these shootings shouldn’t just become white noise.
“It gets forgotten after a week, it’s really sad,” said Kilian Laverty, a senior political science major. “It’s just human nature. We move on from things really quickly. We might focus on it for a week or two, and then we move on.”
There are many ways for us to get involved with this epidemic, and one of our greatest tools in this battle for gun control is social media. We can talk about gun violence, organize rallies and protests and petition for change, all from our keyboards.
“Social media is a helpful tool in spreading awareness about many pressing societal issues, including school shootings,” said Stephanie Miodus, a Ph.D. candidate in school psychology at Temple. “But activism must extend beyond social media campaigns to advocacy that directly targets change in policies from the local to national level.”
Achieving that change, however, starts with discussions and petitions on social media. Use your phone to reach out to your senators and start a conversation with others.
Don’t let children dying in schools be another post that you just swipe past. Use social media to advocate for your own cause.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misspelled “Barack.”