Activism

Hashtag Activism – Turning Whispers into Shouts and Fighting Stigma with Story

Hashtag Activism – Turning Whispers into Shouts and Fighting Stigma with Story

The concept of hashtag activism is nothing new. The term, coined by media outlets to refer to the use of Twitter hashtags for social movements and activism, first appeared in September of 2011 in an opinion piece published by The Guardian, where it was used to describe the role social media played in the Occupy Wall Street protests. Utilizing hashtags on social media sites, which originated on Twitter as a means of coordinating conversations, activists in the Occupy Wall Street Movement were able to coordinate and organize spontaneous protests. Since then, hashtag activism has taken a variety of forms and is used to describe an umbrella of online activity – moving on from simply raising awareness and coordinating marches and protests to connecting communities, fostering discussion, sharing stories, and ultimately driving social change. While there is no shortage of opinions on the effectiveness of hashtag activism – with thinkpieces abound decrying it “vanity activism, in which narcissistic pronouncements substitute for actual engagement” – there is no question that social media puts the power of narrative in the hands of anyone and everyone, giving voice to those who’ve been silenced, story to those who’ve endured erasure, and a welcoming community to those who’ve been isolated by shame and stigma.