What did the hashtag do for us in 2014?

If you’re not familiar with the term “slacktivism,” you could probably infer that the word is a combination of activism and slacking; the term refers to web based support to a political or social matter.  In a class that I took over the summer called Intro to New Media, we defined the term slacktivism and spent a lot of time debating what constitutes this form of “activism.”   Using the word slacktivism became popular when the hashtag #STOPKony was started in 2012.  “Kony 2012” was a documentary produced and filmed by Invisible Children, an organization who’s purpose is to stop the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) from abducting any more African children from their families and works to bring them out of captivity.

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This hashtag #STOPKony is many times used to describe what slacktivism is.  However, now that it’s been three years since the first usage of that hashtag, there are other hashtags that have emerged from equally as harmful social and political events.  In her article, “12 Hashtags that Changed the World in 2014,” Lindsey Weedston discusses how these twelve hashtags have done everything for humanity but slacktivism in 2014.

These twelve hashtags range from poignant to hilarious and seem to sum up the year of 2014 in hashtags.  #BringBackOurGirls and #BlackLivesMatter were two hashtags that I was familiar with before reading this post, but they deserve recognition.  The first hashtag refers to the girls that were abducted from a Nigerian boarding school in April of 2014.  Unfortunately in this case, the hashtag wasn’t powerful enough to bring back each of these girls safely, but it raised awareness and advocacy in the United States for the matter.  Even Michelle Obama jumped in to do what she could.  The second hashtag refers to the general feelings of injustice of the treatment of unarmed African Americans by police officers (especially Eric Garner).  Weedston writes, “Since the tag’s latest iteration, Attorney General Eric Holder has declared that there will be a federal inquiry into the grand jury decision about Eric Garner.”  In this case, the hashtag had a lot of power.

To touch on a more light-hearted topic, Weedston’s article introduced me to #DudesGreetingDudes.  This is a satirical hashtag that makes fun of catcalling by saying, “If men think that catcalling is a harmless compiment, let’s see what it’s like if they start complimenting each other in public.”  The results were hilarious!

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