Op-Ed: Leveraging the Power of Social Media to Empower and Engage

“Social media is an invaluable tool to support reversing the learning loss that has happened since the 2017 hurricanes and the 2020 pandemic.” (Shutterstock image)

In the past 20 years, humanity has seen huge advancements in just about every industry. This progression can be attributed to varying factors, including broader access to educational opportunities and more collaboration among neighboring countries around the world.

However, the largest impetus for this surge in productivity and innovation can be credited to the emergence of the Internet. The Internet has offered avenues in which information can be passed in seconds across the globe. It has streamlined and made timely processes more efficient, removed barriers to education and skillset development, and has been instrumental in the preservation of invaluable information.
According to the Global Overview Report produced by the digital reference library DataReportal, it is estimated that the average person spends 6 hours and 40 minutes daily on the internet, with social media platforms garnering a large chunk of that time.
The popularity of social media has reshaped major industries such as Big Media, which has had to prioritize their online viewership over their television viewership, due to many Americans now relying on social media for their daily news consumption. Social media has also revolutionized marketing. 20 years ago businesses relied on billboards and television commercials to advertise their products and services, now these organizations have turned to social media and influencers to do the heavy lifting in their advertisement efforts. A decision that has maximized profits for many institutions due to social media apps like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok, which ensure that business promotions can be seen across much larger demographics for a fraction of the cost.
Locally in the Virgin Islands, we have seen how social media has been mobilized to support the campaigning of politicians running for office, the quick passage of pertinent information from government departments to the community, and the enhanced opportunity for communication across our multi-district territory that is comprised of four islands.
Further than that, we have seen the rise of Virgin Islanders taking a large step into the digital space, allowing an opportunity for people outside the territory to peer into the lives, culture, and values of Virgin Islanders; a crucial step in circumventing the erasure of our traditions and the stifling of our unique experiences as people who live under a colonial framework, while also upholding a culture rife with indigenous practices and wisdom.
Virgin Island’s content creators, who craft content geared toward education, empowerment, cultural preservation, and community engagement, are creating bridges across demographics that historically have always been compartmentalized in our community. This cord of connection inspires intergenerational dialogue and a more inclusive approach to solution-oriented discourse that meets the needs of our larger territory.
As the digital paradigm continues to cement its influence in the global world, and in particular on our younger generations, it’s important that we leverage the power of social media to capture the minds and hearts of our young people. Social media is an invaluable tool to support reversing the learning loss that has happened since the 2017 hurricanes and the 2020 pandemic. It also allows us a chance to include our young people in the ongoing shaping of our community through creating content that is easily digestible, engaging, and authentic to the unique Virgin Islands’ experience. These online platforms can be used to promote civic engagement, curb apathetic attitudes toward our community’s woes, and inspire new ways of perceiving old traditions.
The age of the internet has gifted us a unique occasion to strengthen the bonds of our community and to promote a Virgin Islands product that is a true reflection of the Virgin Islands’ voice; and because of the industry and innovation of our Virgin Islands content creators, the work of leveraging this tool has already begun.