#Activism – COM0011 Blog Post 1

I think it was just after week one, I had started exploring WordPress blog posts and came across a post about Twitter hashtags and how they help people get the news in real time. It happened to be one of the most recent posts or comments of the week, and it got me thinking immediately.

I am still fairly new to the world of hashtags. I don’t personally use Twitter – generally if I’m on it, it’s for work and I tweet about what beers or special events my bar has going on. I use Instagram for personal enjoyment, but my followers remain my friends, because I don’t use hashtags to spark any interest from the rest of the Instagram world. Basically, I don’t use them for popularity.

I see the benefit in hashtags. They can help you search social media outlets for topics of interest and posts containing trending topics of the day. But I think that’s my main issue with them and where I become frustrated: they are just too trendy!

One thing that irks me the most when it comes to hashtags is how they seem to simplify big world events into no more than a pound symbol followed by a few words. The tragic Ottawa shooting (#OttawaStrong), the massacre in Paris (#JeSuisCharlie), the kidnapped girls in Nigeria (#BringBackOurGirls) – they are all extremely important issues and yes, the hashtags certainly helped the news reach a wider audience, perhaps informing people across the country or world that didn’t pick up a newspaper that day. But for me, I feel like so much of this hashtagging pandemic is people simply hopping on a social media trend bandwagon to garner more likes and followers, rather than stepping up and taking any real action.

I did a bit of Googling and YouTubing and learned this action (or lack thereof?) is known as ‘hashtag activism’ (click here for a not so sarcastic definition). Flip forward a week or two after each of these events, and who is really talking about them? Who is still using the hashtag? People show their support for only a moment, but the next event comes along and the world hops onto that wagon instead. I am not saying everyone stops caring, but the world of hashtags makes me think people are too comfortable to hide behind their computer screens rather than step up and take real action or protest to the right people of power over the important issues. I would like to think we can change that, but no one likes to be taken out of their comfort zone, do they?

hashtag activism

Hashtagging really helps!

7 thoughts on “#Activism – COM0011 Blog Post 1

  1. I agree with you 100%! Most people simply jump on the band wagon without taking further action. As Maria stated in her blog post about the ALS Ice bucket challenge most jump aboard but aren’t really sure what they are supporting or what they are supposed to do besides pouring a bucket of ice water on themselves. Unfortunately the next question would be how do we get them out of their comfort zone!? incentives? We shouldn’t have to “bribe” or “entice” people to do that right thing, it should be coming to them naturally.

  2. I like the hashtag. It’s tidy. It files all similar information in one spot. I guess some people do jump on the bandwagon to get more followers (still don’t get that whole thing), but people are talking and sharing and I do see people standing up and taking action as well. At first I didn’t like Twitter, but the more I use it the more I like it.

  3. No one is really going to act unless there is something in it for them. It is unfortunate but I don’t think this hashtag activism is going anywhere! Unless bigger businesses link monetary value to the hashtags for a social cause, such as Bell Let’s Talk, I think the majority of people are just going to use social media as a means of popularity and following the given day’s trend.

  4. You make a very interesting point here. I feel conflicted though. I think any medium that raises awareness about issues and unites people against injustice has its merits. However, when our attention quickly turns to the next post on the top ten superfoods or Justin Bieber’s apology, I feel like there’s just not enough time to reflect and absorb the enormity and impact of many of society’s pressing issues.

  5. Hello there,

    Interesting discussion. I think there is potential in “hashtag activism” to raise awareness of, an perhaps even action on, serious issues. However, social media seems to “level out’ a lot of discussions so that the social media discussion of latest social glitches of the pop star du jour seem sometimes to prevail over significant international issues (e.g. war zones).

  6. Ahhh… “hashtag activism” (another form of “slacktivism” perhaps?)

    One thing I would say though is inasmuch as there is little action in this form of activism, the profound effect that a simple hashtag can have on spreading the word and garnering support for a cause is quite remarkable.

  7. My issue with the use of hashtags is I am never quite sure how to label my stuff. Which hashtags to use? I sometimes feel I am using the wrong words or that I am not labelling enough hashtags. #helpme 🙂

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