Digital Activism and the Power of a Hashtag

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(Digital Activism in the 21st century, Source: google images)

Digital Activism

Activism in the 21st century has long since changed since the introduction of the internet and the social spaces everyone being online has created. More and more major issues are being dealt with via hashtags online to stir up support and awareness until it builds enough attention to force real action to take place. While some consider it lazy or call it “slacktivism”, I personally think it can be very beneficial and considering today’s technological age, the internet is the best way to spread things to a large audience.  Considering everyone is in these shared internet spaces it is very easy to see just how quickly the textbook Digital Media and Society brings up the idea of Disruptive Spaces in the chapter on Digital Activism. The textbook defines disruptive spaces as “emergent online spaces that may function as a springboard for movements”. Movements such as #MeToo and its sister hashtag #TimesUp are both recent examples of digital activism in disruptive spaces creating real change in the outside world.

#MeToo Movement

Having recently done a presentation on #MeToo for a class I am in, I am well aware of the history and continuing spread the #MeToo movement and the change it has brought about having started as simply a Disruptive Space. #MeToo was started by Tarana Burke

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(#MeToo in action, Source: browngirlmagazine.com)

and popularized by Alyssa Milano after her wanting to “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem”. #MeToo is essentially a call to end sexual assault and harassment especially in the workplace and it encourages people to put it as their status on social media if they have experienced such assault or harassment. It has spread like wildfire since its conception in October 2017 getting 500,000 tweets within 24 hours of its initial posting on twitter and had been in 12 million posts on Facebook being used by 4.7 million people. Considering this is all within 24 hours and the hashtag is still being used today there is no telling just how many posts and tweets it has been apart of. Anyone interested in learning about the community of people that have formed around this hashtag and the movement it created can always find it on twitter or visit the movements central support website to join the cause.

 

The Reality

Not only has the hashtag spread rapidly through the US it also spread very quickly world wide reaching upwards to 85 countries and a countless number of people. Because of the massive outreaching of support and awareness this once small Disruptive Space has come so far as to expose and accuse many large Hollywood names such as Harvey Weinstein and political figures as well such as Senator Al Franken causing the termination of their jobs regardless of their previous standings. Having the ability to call out big name celebrities and political figures proves the power of the hashtag to cause real social change and bring an end to the suffering so many have encountered in the workplace. While some people do not agree with digital activism and criticize it as being lazy or less “real” than going out and marching with signs or talking with legislators, hashtags and activism bring real awareness to issues and provide avenues for things like marches and legislative action to become an idea. Just as petitions were used in yesteryear’s to bring awareness to issues and stir up enough support to cause change, hashtags provide the modern digital society version and it is just as effective if not more. In the modern world with everything going digital is it really a surprise modern activism and social movements would go digital as well?

tweet-activism
(Twitters role in modern activism, Source: google images)

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