Week 7: ‘Hashtag Activism’.

‘Hashtag activism’ is defined as an act of supporting a particular cause or a movement through social media participation (for example: Twitter and Facebook) and therefore considering oneself contributing something good towards it. In more official and professional words, Caitlin Dewey writes ‘Hashtag activism’ is a term…[leading] people to think ‘awareness’ is its own kind of protest…and people who, for various reasons, do not”. ‘Hashtag activism’ is very popular now-a-days where individuals use social media websites like Twitter, Facebook and even YouTube to some extent to ‘protest’ and therefore play their part in the proposed movement.

Whether or not ‘hashtag activism’ has real world consequences, I believe, depends on various factors including the type of movement meaning is it the one that targets a specific gender or a group of people. For example, a protest involving women or children is more likely to get attention. Similarly, a particular disease, catastrophe is also an attention seeker. From the readings this week, Caitlin Dewey describes different types of hashtags that have gained popularity in the past and present and furthermore she also discuses if they have been successful in making their way through social media. Sometimes, a hashtag movement like #StandwithPP may have real life consequences with 100,000 people tweeting this hashtag leading to the foundation rethink their decision of cutting funding for breast exams and mammograms. On the other hand, there are ‘hashtag activisms’ that are very popular on Twitter but they are not proving to have real world consequences. An example is #BringBackOurGirls. Although, it is a very sensitive topic and has successfully spread the message across about missing Nigerian schoolgirls but unlike #StandwithPP it is a situation requiring more realistic and practical move to solve the problem. Only tweeting and showing anger on social media platforms is totally not a part of solution.

As far as benefits of ‘hashtag activism’ are concerned, I believe it is an excellent way to spread awareness about a topic and get people involving via social media which in a way encourages those directly involved and those who may, in future, get involved. Also, it quickly gets attention of media which then helps in adding to its fast spread. Lynn Bruno, an activist of ‘hashtag activism’ writes in her article, “#BringOurGirlsBack: A marketer’s perspective” that this specific activism is effective and usually such movements follow A.I.D.A funnel. A.I.D.A funnel refers to the process of Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action (A. I. D. A) which maybe thought of as another benefit of ‘hashtag activism’ as there is chance that after the awareness phase there will come the action part of it which then will lead to appropriate solution of the problem rather than just tweeting a hashtag. Another obvious advantage of such activisms is that other people or countries get more alert and cautious and it serves as a way of securing others. In this case, other places around the world would be more careful regarding children’s security.

Some constraints of ‘hashtag activism’ include individuals just spreading awareness but not actually doing something practical to help the situation/crisis. #BringOurGirlsBack is a type of activism involving more serious and practical action, which I am sure is on-going but can be increasingly effective if more people thought of some realistic move/action. Another major disadvantage of ‘hashtag activism’ is that sometimes it masks the actual crisis and instead many other pity and insignificant issues are debated upon leading to distraction which in some way might benefit culprits. Lastly, hashtags come and go. People focus on one type of activism and if some other event happens then the attention shifts from current movement to another. This may disrupt the effort of bringing people together via social media and developing their interest in one type of activism which is now washed away or appears to be of less significance in the light another new activism. Therefore, in my opinion, in the present era it is a great advantage for us to be involved about certain crisis through social media. However, such participation also needs to be more practical and useful to help address the crisis.

Dewey, Caitlin. “#Bringbackourgirls, #Kony2012, and the complete, divisive history of ‘hashtag activism’.” The Washington Post. 8 May 2014. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2014/05/08/bringbackourgirls-kony2012-and-the-complete-divisive-history-of-hashtag-activism/
Bruno, Lynn. “#BringOurGirlsBack: A marketer’s perspective”. Linkedin. 22 May 2014. http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140522200200-24025243-hashtag-activism-a-marketer-s-perspective


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