Once used to identify messages on the topic of the moment, the hashtag’s about-turn into social activism is nearly as confusing as some of the words thrown behind the hashtag of late.
The initial aim of a hashtag was (and still remains) increasing exposure for a particular message and organizing that content under an umbrella topic. Essentially, the world is talking about the same thing at the same time. Certain topics get more attention than they normally would and that is freaking fantastic for issues that people may not have known about before but it sucks when more salient topics get thrown in the same boat as #teamlightskin.
To me, it seems as though people have taken to social media activism now more than ever before and they have swapped tweeting with as many hastags as possible for actual, physical activism. Still confused? Nigeria may be too far away for you to do more than tweet or Instagram #BringBackOurGirls, but what about that little girl in your neighbourhood who’s family needs your help in her battle against cancer? What about that child’s picture that you share on Facebook so that all your friends can “like” instead of actually praying? You do know that it takes more to like that image than it does to actually pray?
Why won’t you people just let the hashtag stay in its own lane? Its job remains simple enough; to classify topics, mostly for those days when some of us just want to know what on earth everybody else was talking – or tweeting – about. The hashtag need not be morphed into Captain Save-a-H** and neither does any other social media platform?
I for one will not judge you or think any less of you for leaving things alone. I also will not automatically deem you a hero for a simple hashtag. The number of tweets and retweets honestly will not bring our girls back, a million tweets will not free the nipple and a simple hashtag honestly will not make people happier.
#Eyelashes #Lipstick #MakeUp #Hair #Curls
It is honestly not your fault, dear hashtag, that the girl who usually tags her pictures like this thinks that we cannot see. It is not your fault that her boyfriend, that annoying spammer, jumps on popular hashtags and buries us under an avalanche of tweets that have nothing to do with the topic of the moment. You know what type of social media user that I am talking about, the heavy-handed hashtag abuser. If not, check out how Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake brilliantly illustrated this point in a skit called #Hashtag.
My two cents on the matter is that social issues cannot only be dealt with through a hashtag. Sure, it will make more people aware on the matter, as I found out this weekend with the #FreeTheNipple campaign, but what happens when the world demands that Boko Haram #BringBackOurGirls and 20 more girls get taken?
So instead of bombarding our timelines with #67Minutes for Madiba Day, got out there and do something for the benefit of the world. Stop facing social issues through social media.