CROWN HEIGHTS — Social media can be used to share news, opinions and cat pictures, but often, it’s also used by young people to promote violence, according to a local group.
“When a fight breaks out, people pull out their phones and just yell ‘WorldStar’ and [they’re] ready to film it and put it online,” said Heather Day of the Crown Heights Mediation Center, an area nonprofit, referring to the popular video sharing site WorldStarHipHop.
To combat that, kids at the mediation center are telling their peers it’s “not worth the likes,” Day said, one of the many anti-violence messages already sent through the group’s “#UNdoviolence” campaign, a social media effort to spread the word about CHMC’s mission.
The idea, Day said, is to get young people (or whoever wants to participate) to take selfies with messages of hope, peace and anti-violence for their communities in Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant.
“What do you tell friends when they’re thinking about getting into a fight after school or what do you say to yourself when you’re starting to get heated?” Day said as examples of what she asks her participants in the group Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets, or YO S.O.S., to help brainstorm for the selfies.
The #UNdoviolence campaign is being done in conjunction with the “#UNselfie” campaign spearheaded by the United Nations Foundation on Giving Tuesday, in which people are encouraged to volunteer or give to charity on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Dec. 2.
In addition to using the #UNselfie to promote their #UNdoviolence campaign, Day said the mediation center hopes the effort shows the community how the group helps the neighborhood — and inspires residents, or anyone, to give.
“This is a way to remind people of what the work is really about and to give them some avenues to give back to the mediation center and S.O.S.” she said.
To that end, the group set up an Amazon wishlist where people can purchase gifts for the mediation center, like hand warmers for their Violence Interrupters who patrol violence-prone areas in Brooklyn at night, a bullhorn for the group to use at anti-violence rallies or headphones and Brooklyn Nets caps — Christmas gifts for local teens.
But even if someone can’t give, the group encourages everyone to take an #UNselfie this Tuesday, to join in on the mediation center’s #UNdoviolence effort, Day said.
For more information about the #UNdoviolence campaign or to find out how to donate, visit the Crown Heights Mediation Center website.