For a little while they were everywhere. All over our Twitter feeds especially, but also Instagram, and Facebook, and then in the news articles about them. Hashtags, ones that had a social and political messages, briefly took over the internet, as viral things do by definition. #BringBackOurGirls. #YesAllWomen. Even, years ago now, #Kony2012.
I have very mixed feelings about this "Hashtag Activism." On the one hand, I cannot look down on anything that informs an ignorant public or supports the finding of a solution. On the other, using hashtags, however widespread and popular, is necessarily distanced from the issue it discusses.
The case of #Kony2012 is probably the best example of the negatives. I distinctly remember my emotions when I came across that particular story, how I was enraged and worked up and wanting to do something about it. So I read articles and read Tweets. But I quickly forgot about it, especially in the light of the controversies around the founder.
Jump to 2014, and a similar thing happened. I, of course, would love to do anything to rescue the poor girls and women in Nigeria. And the grieving, worried families with no control were undoubtedly more desperate to do anything to help. But it died down quickly, as did #YesAllWomen (which I wholeheartedly participated in). Hashtags are viral, and viral does not equate lasting.
Still, how much can we really do? I personally don't know how to change policies or incite a government to action. Maybe, the best I can do is return to Twitter and read the remnant characters of these "movements."
What do you think of Hashtag Activism? Check out the Wikipedia page here, or read different viewpoints here, here, here, or here.
I have a handful of positive thoughts to send out this week!
My Weekly Love
For Monique: Thanks for helping me clean out my closet, and also deal with my endless texts about which clothes to buy or wear.
For the creators of the Sowa Market: Thank you thank you thank you for founding such a wonderful weekend event. I want to go every Sunday and stay all day!
For that one vendor at Sowa this past Sunday: Thank you for saying you loved my hair. I know you were probably just trying to get me to buy that pleated skirt (and I very nearly did!) but in any case I appreciate you taking the time to acknowledge a like-headed person--your curls were very nice as well :)
For Francesca: You drive us into Boston, use your father's parking space so we can gorge ourselves in the North End, and give me back massages whenever I ask even though I'm very annoying about it <3
For Amanda: That mid-day coffee yesterday was just what I needed. Mondays at camp are hard and I was crashing fast--coffee saved the journalism club I was leading from becoming a total mess!
For my campers: First off, you let me be crazy. Second, yesterday everyone noticed I had makeup on, though the only reason for that was being too lazy to fight with remover-resistent liner. Even if the comments weren't always positive (case in point: "Miss Julia, you look scary"), I'm flattered to realize you guys pay enough attention to me to spot such a subtle difference and to care about it.