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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.”