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@letshaveaseat fea­tures con­densed and infor­mative graphics. Courtesy | Vic­toria Marshall

Two Hillsdale stu­dents have stopped scrolling and started posting. 

Tired of seeing thoughtless left-wing posts dom­i­nating social media, senior Vic­toria Mar­shall and junior Morgan Billingsley created an Instagram account titled @letshaveaseat to provide a platform of dis­cussion for popular social justice ori­ented opinions that swamp Instagram feeds amidst national political tensions.

“Instagram as an app began to change and change into more of an activist platform,” Mar­shall said. “It was so per­for­mative and people just started throwing out all these insane and hon­estly inde­fen­sible argu­ments in order to defend the actions of rioters.”

The account began back in July during the George Floyd protests and Black Lives Matter riots. Mar­shall noticed many people posting images and content in support of Black Lives Matter just to follow a trend.

“I just saw young people reposting and not crit­i­cally thinking through the logical impli­ca­tions of the things that they were posting,” Mar­shall said. “I realized there was no account­ability and things were being posted because no one wanted to be called racist for not posting it.”

Billingsley noticed the same in her Instagram feed, and appre­ciated Marshall’s posts fighting against the main­stream opinions.

“We were both just very frus­trated with how pro­lific the social media activism and pro­pa­ganda effec­tively was,” Billingsley said.

“One day we were kind of com­mis­er­ating with each other,” Mar­shall con­tinued. “And I basi­cally said to Morgan, ‘You know some­times I just think about starting my own Instagram account responding to all of the little dumb text posts about my inherent racism as a white person’.”

That’s where it all started — and so began Mar­shall and Billingsley’s new Instagram endeavor. Instead of simply watching black squares go by, Mar­shall and Billingsley created their account as an oppor­tunity for dis­cussion. The account, Mar­shall said, started a conversation. 

“Young people are just so sus­cep­tible to believing these opinions because they’re on Instagram, and everyone’s just really afraid to speak up against certain things because they’re afraid of being labeled a racist,” said Mar­shall. “The whole point of the page is just to offer a dif­ferent opinion, a dif­ferent per­spective, and to get people to think,” she con­tinued. “We want to put out heavily researched argu­ments that counter the dom­inant argument so people can see both sides.”

Billingsley and Marshall’s dif­ferent talents balance each other through the design process of cre­ating a post. 

“I would never have started the account if not for Morgan, because our skill sets kind of bounce off each other,” Mar­shall said. “I have the vision, and Morgan has the admin­is­trative and exe­cu­tional skills.”

Mar­shall and Billingsley hope to provide acces­sible and eye-catching content within the layout of Instagram posts. @Letshaveaseat posts  are cat­e­go­rized and min­i­mal­istic with a pastel color scheme and type­writer fonts, making the con­densed content easy to read. 

“We want to offer a dif­ferent per­spective, and we want to do so in a way that is artic­ulate, respectful, and also artful,” Mar­shall said. “We really wanted to have the aes­thetics down because for some con­ser­v­ative pages that I see on Instagram, they’re just so dis­tasteful in terms of the aes­thetic, and that’s not going to appeal to some young person who isn’t really into politics.”

Since their first post in July, Mar­shall and Billingsley have received good feedback.

“There have been pri­marily very pos­itive responses,” Billingsley said. “A lot of people have been responding saying ‘thank you so much for pro­viding this content’ or ‘this account needs to explode,’ and it’s been feedback from a lot of dif­ferent people from a lot of dif­ferent circles, which is really encouraging.”

Although @letshaveaseat is reaching dif­ferent groups of people, Hillsdale stu­dents have also been impacted, such as senior Kate Reamsnyder. 

“The account has an awareness of my generation’s social morals, enough to cause anyone who reads it to pause and really think about the phi­losophy and ide­ology behind the slogans that are thrown their way con­stantly,” said Reamsnyder. 

The posts that Mar­shall and Billinglsey have pub­lished are rel­evant and timely, she added.

“I appre­ciate most that their posts con­sider the real effects on real humans of all back­grounds that such an ide­ology would have if it became our nation’s current worldview,” Ream­snyder said.

In the future, Mar­shall and Billingsley hope to start a podcast or a Patreon page in order to boost the quality and time spent on the account, Mar­shall said. For now, they’re planning to put out more content in response to the ten­sions that will arise during the election season, Billingsley said. 

“Tempers are high and emo­tions are high, and there are a lot of dif­ferent news outlets and pages trying to garner support for a certain can­didate,” Billingsley said. “But regardless of that, truth needs to be heard. It deserves to be decided truth­fully with research that’s not just fueled by emotion.”

Mar­shall and Billingsley plan to con­tinue cul­ti­vating this outlet in order to foster a “coun­ter­vailing nar­rative,” Mar­shall said.

“We’re willing to stand up for prin­ciples and ideas that will ensure our safety, our liberty, and our way of life,” Mar­shall said. “If we’re too scared to stand up for them, then say goodbye to liberty.”