It is without a doubt that that social media is an innovation of the Internet and a forefront of the World Wide Web. Social media has been an avenue for information sharing and a port for connectivity for individuals no matter their race, gender, upbringing, and etc. Social media has changed the way we communicate between individuals and communities as a whole. A large part of the social media diffusion can be attributed to a new trend called hashtaging.
Hashtaging has been in effect for quite some time; we have heard of #BringBackOurGirls, #JusticeForTrayvon, #StandBehindPP, and the most recently in politics #DuckingDonald. Some have argued that hastaging is but a slackerism of social media, rather I would have to argue that social media is activism. What must be understood is that social media, in such a digital age as is now, is but a tool of innovation and social change.
The most recent example of hashtag activism is the case regarding Kesha and her denied injunction against her music producer, from whom she is seeking a break from contract on the accusation of sexual assult. His lawyers are accusing Kesha of “instigating trial by twitter,” and her following fan crowd hastaging #FreeKesha.
We have seen hashtag activism’s success for other pivotal social movements and cases of social inequality, so why should it not apply in the case of Kesha? For some, I am sure, it is the notoriety of her celebrity standing. However it has become clear that not only has the celebrity world felt a sense of injustice, but it would appear others have also spoken. Following the ruling on her trial Taylor Swift reportedly donated $250,000 to her cause.
I believe that social media is changing, just as technology is continually changing. I think that social media is shifting from just a platform to share ideas and simply connecting, to a platform advocating for change; a platform from which all individuals can came together to fight for a larger cause. Social media in its infancy can be seen perhaps as a net negative development when you look at the issues of privacy and cyber bullying. But when you look at what can come of social media, connecting so many different lives to fight for justice of individuals, the net positives will out way the negatives.
We are a generation that is still learning what we can do and how we can evolutionize technology; however what we can be sure of is this: we are activists who were “once defined by their causes, are now defined by their tools.”
XiaoYing Van Schaik @xiaoying_kang
Emerging Media Graduate Student