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How Has The Hashtag Activism Changed The Way We Protest?
Hashtag activism has largely changed the way people protest today. We are living in an extremely modernized era which is characterized by wide usage of social media, a powerful tool that has made hashtag activism to thrive. Typically this type of activism involves using social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, among other networking sites to support a cause. The very essence of a hashtag is to share a message or a concern with one’s friends through the social media hoping that they will also share with others. Just like other forms of activism, a hashtag leads to discussions which ultimately leads to reform, mainly social and political as well as widespread awareness of the issue being communicated (Earl, and Kimport, 2011). One of the earliest forms of the hashtag campaigns can be traced back in 2011 when the #OccupyWallStreet movement was formed to protest against socioeconomic inequalities in the U.S through Twitter. Since then, multiple hashtags have been used throughout the world have been used to communicate messages intended to gather like-minded individuals on a particular issue and seek change. Without doubt, hashtag activism has offered a new strategy in which protests are organized and carried out. It enables people to unite globally and seek justice regarding an issue within a short time, protesters have become more courageous and safer when campaigning. Besides, hashtags activism raises the voices that are constantly overlooked by the media. Drawing from real examples, this paper will broadly explain how hashtag activism has transformed the way we protest.
To start with, hashtag activism attracts a broad audience all over the world. By sharing a simple message on any social networking site, many people who relate to what the hashtag is advocating for or against become attracted and share with other people in other parts of the universe. The issue may not be directly affecting or related to them but they get the opportunity to comment about it or discuss if they find it necessary. As a result, this often leads to a huge multinational following regarding the concern. Activism is not a new term as people have always expressed their discontentment throughout history. However, unlike the old ways of demonstrating, hashtag activism reaches more people. The United States has been a hotbed for activism even before its origin. Numerous challenges in various states set off the Revolutionary War and prompted an American country (Earl, and Kimport, 2011). Challenges against the forces that were present during those times did not stop there, truth be told, they proceeded on very quickly beginning with Shay’s Rebellion. Unsurprisingly, as innovation has saturated the world, activism has moved from grassroots to the web. While this hashtag activism has as of late gone to the cutting edge, it has been around for a very long while. It was not until the 1990s, however, that it began picking up footing through new stages like the dispatch of MoveOn.org and the utilization of email by dissidents to sort out amid challenges in Seattle against the WTO in 1999. Virtual activism proceeded and expanded amid the time of the 2000s with challenges against movement arrangements, psychological militant gatherings, training cuts, and tyranny. There is a big difference in the size of protesters when it comes to the old ways of protesting and the latest forms of demonstrating. The availability of the Internet in addition to social media platforms has made it possible for activists to get support from the multinational audience.
#BlackLivesMatter is one of the most popular protests under hashtag activism that attracted a wide range of concerned individuals. It was created by Alicia Garza, PatrisseCullors and Opal Tometi in 2013 in the wake of the homicide of Trayvon Martin and the vindication of George Zimmerman. The case prompted multiracial challenges the nation over and Twitter turned into a method for sorting out and talking about these encounters. The resulting media consideration regarding the killings of unarmed dark and darker individuals supported further challenge utilizing the boulevards, study halls, and grounds, yet in addition web-based life (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumbler, Snapchat, and YouTube). Of these, Twitter is the world’s biggest miniaturized scale blogging administration and increased particular political significance among Black gatherings of people (Cumberbatch, and Trujillo-Pagán, 2016). But constrained to 140 composed characters and 6 seconds of video, individuals over the world regardless occupied with hashtag activism and built up a rich talk spanning social, financial, and political limits. The hashtag was utilized roughly 30 million times on Twitter with 17,002 notices for every day by and large. The purpose behind this achievement is the dark network’s desire to be seen, tuned in and comprehended. It is the longing to indicate they are various despite the fact that they are considered as a minority.
Since the promotion of #blacklivesmatter, different hashtags have additionally developed to challenge winning stories slandering Blacks and Latinos, cisgender non-white individuals, transgender, and sex nonconforming unfortunate casualties. Hashtags like #Ferguson, #SayHerName, #DangerousBlackKids, and #BringBackOurGirls, just to mention a few give proof of how discourse happens momentarily crosswise over spot and space (Yang, 2016). Something other than images and letters, #blacklivesmatter, different hashtags, and the social development that pursued cultivated another worldwide space for discussions about race and the significance of social equity in the 21st century.
Nevertheless, this hashtag activism has been intensely reprimanded and confronted allegations of apathy and narcissism, proposing that individuals can’t be tried to set aside the effort to go to dissents and essentially get included on Twitter to rest easy thinking about themselves, as opposed to trying to guarantee change is made. This raises worries about whether hashtag activism is rolling out genuine improvement or whether it is essentially blowing smoke around these significant issues, with few substantiated changes, in reality, especially concerning government approach. It has been recommended that genuine challenges and arouses are increasingly viable at making a change. In spite of the fact that the facts demonstrate that expanded mindfulness does not really compare to genuine change, hashtag activism ought not to be expelled as a powerful type of dissent (Cumberbatch, and Trujillo-Pagán, 2016). It is especially successful at empowering developments to contact a more extensive gathering of people and increase huge quantities of supporters without them being physically focused on a specific area. This can give a feeling of overall solidarity behind the development, and alongside the way that hashtag developments can be interminably gotten to and added to, they present the issues with a feeling of criticalness, making them harder to be disregarded. Besides, the openness of internet-based life empowers a wide assortment of voices to add to the discussions encompassing the developments, and can even give a passage to the administration, with world pioneers and government authorities ending up progressively dynamic on Twitter.
Additionally, hashtag activism enables issues which the media constantly evades bringing into the light to be voiced up. Some contend Twitter does not really advance political commitment with set up establishments. Interestingly, European researchers consider new social developments “less as associations of basic intrigue and more as new types of aggregate character occupied with digressive battles that change individuals’ self-understandings as well as challenge the authenticity of got social codes and perspectives”. A basic piece of this rambling battle includes internet based life, which makes a virtual space to challenge, reframe, and reinscribe portrayals of who is exploited. Networks like Black Lives Matter (BLM) challenge the authenticity of an apparently “visually challenged” legal framework (Yang, 2016). These people group likewise reclassify social equity and offer a voice to the individuals who recognize as LGBTQ as well as are sexual orientation nonconforming and the individuals who have been verifiably underestimated in conventional social equality developments.
More than structure mindfulness around explicit social issues or notwithstanding encouraging open exchanges on race and social equity, #blacklivesmatter has been utilized to encourage the association and arranging of dissents against racial profiling and police severity in the United States and to construct solidarities in various pieces of the world. Youth have declared the intensity of their physical voice by utilizing “the governmental issues of interference” (Cumberbatch, and Trujillo-Pagán, 2016). For instance, dissidents have truly gotten the amplifier from booked speakers so as to challenge aloof school executives, inert legislators, and law authorization. In the contemporary minute, youngsters can seize upon a universally associated voice that is increasingly participatory and unmediated by customary establishments. Hierarchically, this unreformed access to each other recognizes the adolescent of today from their Civil Rights time forerunners who depended on open spaces, papers, and TV to transmit their routine with regards to peaceful common rebellion and disturbance of trade to a worldwide group of onlookers. Individuals utilize internet based life to “compose back” to a circumstance.
What is more, hashtag activism has made protesters more confident. Drawing from the #blacklivesmatter example, people were able to share their experiences and made comments regarding racial discrimination in the U.S. One can share their views and comment as they wish without fear unlike during the earlier days, African Americans lacked enough courage to come out in the public and say that they were being discriminated against. In such instances, they would have less or no people to back them up and eventually, their concerns would be dismissed. The fact that many people can share experiences similar to what a particular hashtag is addressing gives the demonstrator or the activist the strength to push on with a cause. Like their political forerunners, #blacklivesmatter and the hashtags and photographs that pursued point to the severity unleashed upon dark or brown bodies and the continuation of organized bigotry, which cultivates a remarkable open door for radical instructors and understudies to utilize declaration so as to move past the study hall to the boulevards so as to take an interest in the formation of learning (Cumberbatch, and Trujillo-Pagán, 2016). BlackLivesMatter development has moved the focal point of Black Studies Programs, from concentrating on the constructive commitments to incorporating the genuine issues of dark individuals into what has been truly a strengthening account. Undergraduate understudies time after time go to the study hall without fundamental learning of African American history. An extreme custom uses online networking to incorporate training and the understudy into a contemporary development, moving understudies from an absence of racial cognizance to self-viability, for example, and trust their capacity to impact the occasions that influence their lives.
Through online networking, we promptly approach a rich assortment of portrayals of unfortunate casualties and here and their perpetrators made without anyone else’s input. Virtual people group just as conventional media approach the different Facebook pages of unfortunate casualties and individuals from their families. Exhibiting the pictures of a killed Emmett Till in dark media of that time in discourse with the differentiating photographs of Trayvon Martin wearing a hooded sweatshirt and those of him riding a steed and resembling the youngster he was offered another open door for an exchange of the chronicled portrayals of youthful dark men as hazardous. The killings of youthful dark men, for example, Jordan Davis and the general disappointments of the legal framework to verify feelings enlivened clients to post photos of dark young men utilizing the hashtag (Cumberbatch, and Trujillo-Pagán, 2016). By comparing the pictures and putting them in close to home, familial, and residential settings, web-based life turns out to be something beyond a website for discussion. For understudies and instructors, seeing a youthful dark man or lady in their graduation top and outfit can be an especially full portrayal of what has been lost. Online networking (and #blacklivesmatter) become a spot for investigation where understudies can connect with a more extensive political network, yet in addition see contemporary minutes as a component of bigger authentic discussions.
Overall, hashtag activism has facilitated significant changes in the way people protest in the modern era. One of the most visible changes is that today’s demonstrations involve a wide audience worldwide given that a hashtag can be shared on various social media platforms and be received by millions of users in various parts of the globe. Drawing from the #blacklivesmatter campaign, many people protested over the issue and they were not from the U.S alone but also other parts including Africa and Asia. Additionally, courtesy of hashtag activism, protesters are now more confident than ever to share their views and are also safe. What is more, it has enabled the wider public to know issues that are given less attention by the media.
 
 
References
Cumberbatch, P. and Trujillo-Pagán, N., 2016. Hashtag activism and why# BlackLivesMatter in (and to) the classroom. Radical Teacher106.
Earl, J. and Kimport, K., 2011. Digitally enabled social change: Activism in the internet age. Mit Press.
Yang, G., 2016. Narrative agency in hashtag activism: The case of# BlackLivesMatter. Media and Communication4(4), p.13.