Every once in a while, social media shows why it can be a uniquely positioned platform for effective social and political commentary (and not just a repository of selfies and angsty teen nonsense).
Police shot and killed unarmed teenager #MikeBrown this weekend. The story got little national media attention until today, when the anger, despair, and frustration of Brown’s community erupted into a riot. Mainstream media has finally picked up the story, being highly critical of the community’s response (though minimizing the fact that violence broke out after police showed up in SWAT gear with dogs to peaceful candlelight vigil).
Adding insult to injury, mainstream media have largely used images of #MikeBrown that portray the young man in the most stereotypically “thuggish” way possible, though they have access to a number of more neutral images. This questionable media framing has captured the attention of frustrated social media users, and they are speaking out.
A rapidly growing number of Twitter and Instagram users are posting pairs of images with the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown. Social media users are asking, “If they gunned me down, which picture would they use?” No matter what your opinion of the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of Brown, this is a really interesting look at how strongly media framing can shape public perceptions of reality.”