Social media has come a long way since Black Planet backgrounds and MySpace top eights, and BET’s first-ever Social Awards ’18, held this weekend in Atlanta, were further evidence of that.
A hashtag can spawn a movement, and the right Instagram status can make you a star. BET’s Social Awards ’18, hosted by comedian Michael Blackson, celebrated our culture’s creators who have taken social media and made it a voice for the people.
Here is a countdown of the top seven moments:
Look, it takes a lot to put yourself out there for the masses to judge, and the winners took that leap of faith and turned their personalities into paychecks, dominating in categories like Best Podcast (The Joe Budden Podcast), Mood AF (Insecure’s Issa Rae and her “I’m rooting for everyone black” comment) and Baewatch (lovers of “black love,” Remy Ma and Papoose).
Recording artist-model Kash Doll took the crown in the Issa Wave category for pulling the “streams, likes and views” you need these days to dominate the music game with 2 million followers on the ’gram, while online comic BlameItOnKway took home the award in the LMAO! category.
The Clapback category was filled with people who will never be the one to try, with Jess Hilarious winning because of her ability to speak her mind and give zero fucks, while notorious social media gossip outlet the Shade Room won for keeping us all hydrated in a category it knows all too well: Best Tea.
In every generation we are blessed with voices that speak truth to power, and one of those blessings has come in the form of political pundit Symone Sanders, who spoke at the Social Awards.
Sanders stepped on that main stage and reminded us of the power that social media holds. A giver of no fucks, she spoke about the impact that social media has made for women and how it was the spark that ignited the Women’s Marches across the nation. As a woman who herself has used social media to speak out against injustice, she served as the night’s reminder that we have come a long way, but there is still work to be done.
#BlackTwitter has gifted us with many national treasures, one of whom is comedian and actress Amanda Seales. On social media, Seales has used her voice to encourage us not to bite our tongues and to speak more honestly. During the red carpet, Seales showed pride in her authenticity and reminded us that being your authentic self is one of the greatest ways to use social media. Being real will never go out of style.
Back to Seales for a moment, who called the Social Awards ’18 “one big family reunion.” And what reunion isn’t complete without a lil’ two-step? The night kicked off with some of your favorite social influencers giving us a look back at all the popular dance moves of 2017. They Milly Rocked on every block, and it was evident that these influencers were the cousins who spent hours upon hours on YouTube dance tutorials.
Also present: the audience, which was filled with your favorite cousins, as well as a few of those cousins you wished would stop coming around. But probably the biggest fave was seeing those “aunties” who showed up in their Sunday best—Easter hats and all. It was a mood.
And as with every reunion, at the end of the night, people did not want to leave. I am still not sure whether the leisurely pace was because they were entranced by the creative energy in the room or because they were waiting for that coveted Instagram selfie. I mean, if you didn’t take a picture, did you even go to the BET Social Awards?
If you’re talking about authenticity, you can’t help mentioning people such as singer Amara La Negra, who rocked it at the awards. Amara is using her social media presence to empower her community and change the narrative on Afro-Latinas. Amara talked about how important it is to use your platform to stand up for what you believe in and not use your social media to be a “hater.”
She said that you should use your online voice to speak about important topics and then use those topics to uplift your community. A lot of people put great stock in their followers, but Amara was there to let you know that your words can make a difference no matter how many followers you have.
During the show, no one was off-limits, from Donald Trump to Tyrese Gibson. Anyone could get it. Host Blackson opened the show by highlighting how various people use social media, and how it was Tyrese’s use of it that caused the “Coalition of Dark-Skinned Brothas” to offer him up as tribute and suggest trading him for Drake. Let Tyrese serve as a constant reminder that you never go full-on meltdown on any of your social platforms.
The awards were the biggest celebration of social media to date and honored influencers for their hard work, as well as brands for their curation of content, and a good black-ass time was had by all. You know it’s set to be an interesting show when your host comes out looking like an extra straight out of Coming to America.
In one way, shape or form, social media has been around for at least two decades, and there is still such opportunity for growth. Social media has stood the test of time and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Its various platforms have changed the way we create and consume media, but the jury is still out on whether it has made us better people. Here’s to another two decades and beyond of creativity, impactful speech and thought-provoking content.