BlueLivesMatter refers to the blue uniform that police officers wear. The hashtag #BlueLivesMatter is used as a tag on posts regarding anything about support and sympathy for the police force or discussing the importance of the police force in communities in general. #BlueLivesMatter is often used as a response to another very common hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter, which regards the overwhelming number of shootings of Black individuals by the police. By using the Hashtagify.me social media analysis tool, I found that the major hashtags associated with my issue on Twitter are #Trump2016, #BlackLivesMatter, #AllLivesMatter, #MAGA, #tcot, #Dallas, #PJNet, #PoliceLivesMatter, #WakeUpAmerica, and #ThinBlueLine. After doing some research, I came to find out that #MAGA stands for “Make America Great Again” and #tcot is short for Top Conservatives on Twitter. In comparison to Twitter, Facebook posts regarding the blue lives matter movement are less focused on politics and more focused on the police officers. Posts are more specific, tying into police officers lives as individuals instead of the integrity of the police force as a whole. There are many posts that show pictures of officers and their families. Some posts include selfies that officers have taken while on the job, pictures with police dogs, or pictures of them doing something related to their job. Here we see a photo of a police officer holding his daughter who has a sign in her hand that reads, “My daddy’s life matters.”
Here is a police officer taking a selfie with a police dog in the car. The officer is happy and smiling. He looks innocent and kind. Even the police dog looks innocent and playful. Neither one appears to be threatening at all.
All of these types of posts use pathos to try to appeal to the community and society as a whole. They have the aim of convincing people to have sympathy- or at least empathy for police officers, too. I did not see as many argumentative posts bashing other opposing causes like the black lives matter movement on Facebook as I did on Twitter. However, there are some exceptions, and supporters do make a point to post reports of news regarding their opposers, in an effort to further their cause.Here is a post made by the Conservative Post page on Facebook. Here we see a photo of Sylville Smith, a man shot and killed by police in Milwaukee. The photos place Smith in a derogatory light and the caption insinuates that in some way, he deserved to die because of this. Shortly after Smith’s death, the city of Milwaukee erupted into protests and riots to show their frustration. The comments under this post go back forth over the incident. Comments like, “And the police officer that shot this scumbag was black so what is your excuse for all the looting. You are nothing but a bunch of rabid animals looking for an excuse to rob and steal”, and, “Simple bastard got what he deserved. What do those dumb asses want, to be exempt from our laws? Black lives matter members should be labeled as terrorists and treated as such”, illustrate the general synopsis of the post.
Now compare these two photos of Smith- mean mugging, holding guns, and the happy, smiling police officer with his innocent, playful police dog. The two pictures create completely different effects. Anyone comparing the two is bound to feel differently about the subject of each photo. The police officer seems inviting, approachable, and innocent, while Smith seems threatening, dangerous, and corrupt. So we can see how posts are used to further the blue lives matter cause and in some cases, discredit the black lives matter movement.