Ten Seconds to Impress: Global Change Through Likes and Retweets

Fuller Prize Co-Winner

By Julissa Castro-Ruiz

You open Instagram and see that, once again, tragedy has befallen somewhere across the globe. 

Whether it is a war, a natural disaster, or a protest, your feed is now saturated with thoughts and prayers. The same post gets reposted in everyone’s story over and over again, with only the first two stories catching your attention before you quickly tap to skip the rest. Most posts offer to donate a cent for a like, which we do, as it is the least we can do, and then we share it to continue the chain. Having fulfilled our duty, we move on to the next story. Videos and pictures are uploaded, covering every angle of the event so that we no longer need to wait for the news reporters to arrive. We go to Twitter to see what happened, where it happened, and how it happened. TikTok brings us the victims’ interviews, the uncensored videos and the aftermath. We have become the policymakers, the reporters, and the volunteers, all in the span of a 10-second story. How long will our attention last before we move on to the next one? 

Social media has spurred the expansion of globalization, making the flow of information and exchange of knowledge faster and more accessible than ever before. We are aware of the latest news from around the world before we turn on the TV or look at the newspapers, which have now become fact-checkers of our recollection of events rather than the source of our information. Protests, wars and natural disasters all sell news, all get attention, and all will soon be replaced by a greater and more important event. How long it will last depend on how close to home it hits, and how acceptable it is in society. Whenever something happens in a predominantly white or Christian country, the world gathers in support. A church can raise millions in seconds while a humanitarian crisis in Yemen is debated to see if it is feasible to resolve. When war explodes in Europe, countries come together to welcome its refugees with open arms while Africans and Muslims are left behind. Those that are prioritized reflect what our society deems important and acceptable within our shared values. 

But what can we do from the other side of the world?  

To stay “woke” we share posts, donation links and information on our social media. We see, read, and hear so much that we have become accustomed to the new norm. A norm of disaster and despair, of choosing what is worthy of our attention and what can wait for tomorrow. But with 10 seconds to impress, there is not much we can do.  

Let us not do it for the appearances and the likes, let us not leave the help in the retweets nor the hope in a repost.  

About the 2023 Fuller Prize author: Julissa Castro-Ruiz is a senior student in Political Science with a double minor in Communications and Creative Writing. She is the president of JCU MUN Society and board member of The Matthew.