As journalists, our natural instinct is to look for facts. But in the case of this weekend’s bus incident, we do not yet know exactly what happened. Unfortunately, we may never know.
What we do know, however, are these truths: race continues to be an issue at Colby. Violence, in any form and in any capacity, continues to be an issue at Colby. Independent of what did or did not happen on Saturday night, these things matter, and we have to talk about them.
However, there’s another lesson to be learned from the past few days, and it’s one that we’ve been thinking about a lot: the capacity of social media to immediately ignite—and divide—a campus. In this instance, a student posted an account of events on her personal Facebook page. The post consequently garnered so much attention that, just 26 hours later, the President of our College sent an Official Notice to the student body referencing the alleged incident.
How did we get from Point A to Point B? Hundreds of Facebook shares, Yik Yak post after post, screenshots and emails and texts between friends—yesterday, one Echo staff member received a message from a friend at another college which read, “wait, wtf is going on at Colby? Saw something on fb.” Social media is a dynamic and effective tool to spread information and, yes, to incite change. But there’s a flaw: social media, by its very nature, often shows only one side of a story.
We love that social media can drive activism and force us—all of us—to confront our biases and discomfort. We love that these conversations are happening. We love that students are standing up for equality and making their voices heard. What we don’t love, however, is that in the wake of social media posts, our community tends to quickly and vigorously rush to personal judgment about other individuals.
We sincerely hope that every person on this campus—even better, every person in general—would agree that racially-driven acts of violence are abhorrent. We need to reject them, and we need to talk about how to prevent them. However, we’re also of the opinion that we can do that without demonizing an individual on the basis of one account.
The Editorial Board of the Echo