A few years back, when social media was in its infancy and people were thinking about its potential to change the world, we imagined all the ways that it would help to bring us together. Easy and instant communication with people from all over the planet would surely break down the artificial borders constructed between us, and lead to greater cultural exchange, mutual understanding and a shared humanity that could help us to solve the bigger global problems that affect us all.
Sadly, it hasn’t quite worked out that way. Sure, there have been some great examples of social media being a force for the common good, but ultimately we are a tribal species, and we seem to prefer segregating ourselves into smaller and ever more niche groups in the virtual as well as the physical world.
So what happens then? Well, our tribal loyalties become entrenched, and we feel increasingly empowered by our ‘in’ group. Instead of reaching out to share and learn from others, we shout at each other from behind the safety of our screens and spread fake news that only supports our own narrow political aims. You only have to look at the polarized societies of the U.S and the UK to see the evidence of this.
But what can be done? Well, we can start by finding better ways to communicate with people beyond our own circles. Sometimes all it takes is for someone to start the conversation, which the Facebook page “Afrocentric Films Collaborative” did recently when it posted: “OK black people, ask white people one question you always wanted to know.”
Now, anybody that regularly reads through comments sections will know that this could be a recipe for disaster. But not this time! Humor is a universal ice-breaker, and people here are funny, respectful and good-natured, showing the rest of us how to constructively approach topics of race and cultural difference.
Instead of quickly descending into a shitshow of abuse and insults, as this kind of thread often does, there are tons of laughs as people are able to poke fun at themselves, acknowledge historical injustices while learning a lot about each other at the same time. We need more of this!
Sadly, Afrocentric Films Collaborative, which promotes positive African Diaspora images, news, cinema, music and fashion, has received some negative reactions to sharing the post. “That post was created by us a year ago and we decided to share it a few days ago with no intentions of it taking off,” they explained. “We were curious and wanted to get a great and honest dialogue between Black people (people of color) and white people.”
“Unfortunately, since that post, we have received an influx of white racism and ignorance on other posts. We want to create dialogue, but not at the expense of our peace of mind or giving up our authentic voice to Black people, and to all people love and respect. We have contemplated removing that post if people don’t understand that we created it to create a bridge, and not to invite hateful people.”
“Sadly, with the good comes the bad. We have always had socially aware white fans and they know how we get down. We have been targeted by another group that has not been seasoned and have little clue, but everything happens for a reason and hopefully, through scrolling through our post, they will perhaps learn something.”
A sad ending, but as they suggest, there is much to learn from this wholesome thread. Keep scrolling to check it for yourself, and let us know what you think in the comments.