The hashtag; loved and loathed in sometimes equal amounts, was born on Twitter to help track conversation topics. Soon it was used to express feelings and opinions, for example my tummy just rumbled so I can say
#iamsohungry and maybe you are saying
Soon it evolved, not just across other social networks like Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, but also in it's uses. One major consequence is the clarity that activism, journalism, protests and social change have been transformed in how information is spread.
How we discover relevant, real-time content has changed, especially with how we get our news. Once upon a time our ancestors got their news from 10 minute cinema shows. Now we don't have to wait until 6 or 9 o'clock to be told by an older man and glamourous younger female co-presenter to be told what happened earlier that day or even yesterday; censored and manipulated advertiser-friendly network news that isn't done for charity or community but the simple bottom line. The dinosaurs are falling.
Now with social media we get iMedia: We get what is, no opinion, just what is.
What we make of it is our choice.
I personally love to see hashtags born in response to a tragedy; appeals for community, compassion and justice. I also love to see them backfire when manipulated for what I believe to be sinister reasons, such as the classics
#askjamesarthur and #askbritishgas where I am #sorrynotsorry (see what I did there?) but such ill-conceived attempts to regain popularity resulted in said parties getting much egg on their social faces, but an interesting lesson for all in the world of hashtags.
2014 was a very interesting year for this, so in no particular order I present to you those special one liners that tried to, and in some cases did, make a difference:
I love this one. Running right now in reaction to the fears of Australian Muslims who risk being verbally and physically abused on their way to work. At a time where thanks to a volatile economy, racism and fascism are on the rise, it is truly heartwarming to see people power and good conquer the evil of false media, corrupted politicians and ignorant beliefs.
A global effort led by Michelle Obama to denounce the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by Islamic militants. Not only did this not achieve the alleged goal, but it was soon met with fierce yet humorous tweets pointing out the hypocrisy of her husband's actions in the Middle East and forcing the issue of Predator drones
#HandsUpDontShoot and #Icantbreathe
Both very recent reactions to the 2 deaths of unarmed citizens and the increasing concerns over Police Brutality. Not only were these slogans chanted at protests, but the hashtag gained sympathy and caused simultaneous protests all over the world.
The pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong earned the tag the "Umbrella Revolution" as protestors used umbrellas to protect themselves from the heat and various gases used on them by the authorities.
While I found the method for raising awareness distasteful and reeking of slacktivism , let alone the reality that only 28% of funds raised goes to research, I have to tip my hat to the team behind it. Facebook was alive with videos of every Tom, Dick and Harry you know doing it. That many participants didn't actually donate says a lot about this new Me-Generation
What do you think will be the hashtags of 2015?