In this time of uncertainty and confusion, it is easy for things in the media to slip by unnoticed. So, it is very probable that you haven’t heard of the Thirty Meter Telescope protests that are happening in Hawaii. These are protests that are happening in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, over scientists that are trying to build a thirty-meter telescope on top of a mountain that is considered sacred ground for Hawaiians. With everything going on in the world at the moment, it is normal to miss something like this, but these protests have been going on since 2014. That’s six years of blockades, picketing and occupation that almost no one has heard about. So, why haven’t we heard anything?
Well, protestors have not been using social media to their advantage. News outlets have been reporting on these protests, but they have been losing coverage due to bigger stories happening at the same time. If the protestors would take to social media to fight their battles while having their sit-ins and protests, the story would more likely get more coverage. However, a new generation of protestors have taken to social media to spread their story on the most interesting platform: TikTok.
The first time I heard about this story, it was from TikTok. I had been scrolling through the “For You” page and saw a TikTok from a user called @aloha23t that showed protesters sitting at the bottom of the mountain, unwilling to move as large construction trucks moved toward them. It was a powerful video and made me want to learn more about these protests, so I researched the topic on Google before finding a ton of other TikToks showing what was going on in Mauna Kea. There were videos of Hawaiians being carried away from the base of the mountain and some showing signs being made to protest. I was shocked that this hadn’t been getting more coverage and upon further inspection, this issue hadn’t had an article written on it since the beginning of 2019. I was shocked, but glad to see that the younger generation of Hawaiians were taking a stand on social media. They were even putting GoFundMe campaign links in their videos so outsiders could donate to the cause.
This really made me realize how important social media is to garnering support for causes. If the Hawaiian people would have published everything on social media back in 2014, things could have been jump started a lot quicker.
According to the New York Post, as of right now protestors are leaving their camps due to the coronavirus and construction is being delayed slightly. While the issue seems to be at a standstill for now, there will come a time when the world returns to normal and everything will pick back up again. I encourage everyone to research these protests and find out more about them on your own. Also, support the small TikTokers that are making these videos and donate if you agree with why they are protesting. And remember, social media can be more powerful than you think. So be careful with what you post and let us know about the time social media inspired you!