People Don’t Forget, People Are Overwhelmed: Social Media and Historiography

Just a quick blog post today. My blogging activity, as much as I love blogging, will be less the next month or two as I (finally, but it really has not been that long!) finish my dissertation and prepare for a really busy and fun semester of teaching.

Remember about Sandra Bland a few weeks ago? What about Rachel Dolezal from early June?

People denounce contemporary social movements and protests, especially those primarily organized around social media and user-created media, because such movements are so brief (or so that is what they say). Critics constantly say, given it a week or two, people will have forgotten all about it.  

And I have been thinking about all of this for some time and have reached a conclusion: People don’t forget. People are just so overwhelmed with all of the things that deserve a protest movement that they cannot possibly keep track of everything. 

And if we look at things on a broader, historical scale, all of these protests will be grouped in a few decades. Just as the Civil Rights Revolution was not actually one, homogenous movement and only came to exist in time and only after the fact, these movements with social media as the organizing organization will be “homogenized,” assessed and re-assessed and assessed again by society and historians.   

All of this is not to say today’s movements are problem-free. Too often people do get too caught up in the moment alone without any kind of sincere concern with the fight for justice, the long human struggle for freedom. And, far too often, comments people leave on social media are vastly uninformed and full of hate, but this is by no means unique to our current historical moment, time, and place. 

Meme From Facebook
Meme From Facebook