Story by Lexie Salamone & Abbey Stoetzel
Almost the entire world is connected online. Because of that, hashtag activism has become a common way to get a message out. Hashtag activism is specifically using social media to bring about change.
It’s been seen recently around Lee’s Summit with Morgan Ball, a student at Lee’s Summit North sent to administration for wearing what they deemed distracting clothing. From this came a hashtag, #clothinghasnogender. Read more about this movement on page three.
Several Twitter hashtags fall under the category of hashtag activism. Some would be #bringbackourgirls, #WeAreTrayvonMartin, and last fall’s #ALSicebucketchallenge.
Invisible Children, formed in 2004, increased significantly when #Kony2012 trended. History teacher Christy Dabalos became an active leader at West with Invisible Children. abalos said that activism is “important and [it is] how people of lesser status get their rights.”
Jake Lowen, who runs a consulting firm, Kansas Grassroots, said, “I would rather people dedicate a lot of time and resources to doing much more for the causes they care about, but that is not always possible. Most people have very busy lives and if they only have a few moments to retweet something that is so much better than doing nothing. Doing nothing about something you care about is inexcusable,” said Lowen.
Junior Audrey Fleenor became active on social media through the #enditmovement, a movement dedicated to ending modern day slavery. Modern day slavery refers to the institution of modern day slaves, including sexual and labor slaves.
To Fleenor, activism is continuously doing something more.
This year for Shine a Light on Slavery day, Fleenor wanted to do something more than just putting a red X on her hand.
“I wanted to create my own team and raise money through my family and friends and get more people involved,” said Fleenor.
Critics of hashtag activism will call it “slacktivism” because they say it is doing nothing. Fleenor said that online activism online creates awareness.
“If they don’t know that it’s happening, you can’t expect them to care about it. I don’t think it’s slacking because it creates conversation,” said Fleenor.
Activism will continue to grow with the growth of social media.
“I think the challenge will be [to] figure out ways to make even those “shallow” engagements more and more meaningful. It’s increasingly becoming a best practice for smart campaigns to use social media activism as just the first in a series of carefully designed steps to build a deeper relationship with the activist,” said Lowen.