The last few years have proven that social media has changed how we experience news and are exposed to information; this is thanks, in particular, to the way activists have used these social platforms to do things like hold police and other people in power accountable in ways that have rarely been done before. While this is an acknowledged and positive move forward, a side effect of the increased awareness of the brutality visited on black bodies is the trauma this causes to the mental state of many black internet users.
It often seems that not a day passes without logging onto Twitter and seeing a video of a slain black body or a hashtag for another black life lost at the hands of those sworn to protect it. The accumulation of these videos and hashtags is traumatic; seeing them all day, everyday, takes a toll on people’s mental health and ultimately changes how they experience social media.
And so because the way we consume social media has changed dramatically, part of that changing has to include being more mindful of how we control our own consumption of this media.
Perhaps actor and humanitarian Jesse Williams said it best, “just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.” Part of being real is having emotional responses to seeing the violence our brothers and sisters are facing at the hands of police. These feelings are valid and an important part of processing what we’re seeing, but they can be difficult, if not impossible, to handle sometimes, and can make us feel unprotected even in our own homes, as we are doing nothing more than scrolling through our feeds.
Here, then, are some tips on how to protect yourself; on how to be black and safe on the internet right now.