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Gen Z Wants To See More Joy and Positive Moments, Less Trauma and Negativity in their Social Media Feeds

By: Shavone Charles

VSCO — As people around the world took to social media to weigh in on the Black Lives Matter movement in recent months, social platforms were flooded with images of racial violence and Black trauma. Twitter alone noted over 608 million tweets mentioning BLM. 

The team at VSCO wanted to learn more about the impact this might be having on Gen Z, particularly Black youth – so we asked them*. We wanted to understand what they’re seeing and posting on social media right now and what we found is that Gen Z want to see and share more joy. 

Constantly Seeing Trauma on Social Media Negatively Affects Youth/Gen Z 

76% of Gen Z survey respondents said they regularly or often see visual depictions of racial violence in their social media feeds, and it hurts them emotionally: 

83% say it makes them feel depressed or hopeless 

75% say it makes them upset and angry

Gen Z Wants To See and Share More Joy 

Almost 90% of Black survey respondents–and 70% of non-Black respondents–agree that they want to see and celebrate joy on social media more than they do now. 

Both Black and non-Black respondents also agreed they want to see and share more excitement, comfort and hope on social media.

Delving deeper, we asked respondents to explain the importance of Black joy; their responses were compelling: 

“[Black Joy means] allowing yourself to take a moment from grieving and mourning and experiencing generational trauma and stress, and taking a moment for yourself and relaxing and experiencing joy.”–Kaliyah, 22

“It means being able to be yourself and demand happiness from your life despite everything going on in the world.”–Clara, 20

“When I think of Black Joy, I think of determination…it really comes down to finding peace within yourself and having the focus and confidence to navigate in your own community, and in your own world.”–Alexander, 22

Black Youth Feel Hope For The Future, Thanks To Social Media Allies

Fully, 87% of Black Gen Z survey respondents have hope for the future. What’s more, 84% feel they have allies of other races and ethnicities on social media — that’s significantly higher than the 72% who feel they have allies in real life. 

Social Media Is Driving Compassion and Action

When asked how social media is impacting them right now, Black Gen Z respondents said they are feeling connected to like-minded people and/or less alone (94%) and are feeling greater compassion for others (57%).  Still, 62% said it makes them stressed/anxious.

Their non-Black Gen Z counterparts said they are actively learning how they can help others (70%), they feel more educated on social, racial and political issues (67%), and — importantly — are more motivated to take action (56%).

How? Signing petitions and using social media as an educational/resource-sharing platforms are the two key ways they are taking action.

We can have a positive impact on the future

The survey’s findings reinforce our belief that #BlackJoyMatters now, more than ever. Throughout the summer, we will continue to spotlight the imagery and art that celebrates Black joy and the diaspora of Black stories across our social channels and within the VSCO app. And, we will keep talking with you, our community, about what’s giving you hope. 

For Christine, 21, of Melbourne, and Kemi, 23, of Lagos, it’s the simple act of  “taking and editing photos on VSCO” and “the community of creatives on VSCO that has helped me to enhance my creativity,” respectively.

For Ellie, 22 of New York, it’s “the realization that I have more power as an individual than I think I do.”

And Mihlali, 18, of Johannesburg, tells us, “Seeing youth take charge of our future and narrative.”

We invite you to join to create, capture and share own art, first-person videos and/or photos on VSCO here and across every social platform using the hashtag #BlackJoyMatters. 

*We partnered with JUV Consulting, a Gen Z-founded-and-run research group to survey 1006 respondents, more than a quarter (27%) of which identify as Black, aged 14 to 24, conducted online from July 13-23, with additional qualitative interviews conducted from July 16-24.

JUV Media is a collection of JUV press features — from our staff to our campaigns.