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.”