Monday, 16 November 2015

the power of a hashtag

social media is often dismissed by people as being 'materialistic, fluffy, not real'. only recently we saw a backlash from instagrammer essena o'neill who proceeded to 'correct' her captions. it is often dismissed by those who don't understand it, thinking it's frivolous and 'for the younger generation'. but, in times of crisis, social media is where people turn.

i learnt about the horrific paris attacks via Facebook, where a friend had shared a BBC news story. i proceeded to go on Twitter, where #PrayForParis was already trending, alongside #PorteOuverte for people seeking safety amongst the horror. i knew more about the story before it had been announced on the television. the power of social media breaking news story is incomparable in this day and age, trustworthy sources such as BBC News use it as their main platform for sharing key aspects of stories. the immediacy of it all was overpowering to me, and made me almost feel overwhelmed at the power of these platforms.

but another thing that struck me during Friday night and Saturday, was how amazing social media is at fighting this hate. the powerful hashtags previously mentioned were incredible, whilst to some they seem simple it showed a worldwide solidarity between millions of strangers all fighting for the same thing - peace. the power of 140 characters showed the majority of the world fighting against this hatred, highlighting that through a quick touch of a button the world was united - even if we've never met.

hashtags have proved instrumental in portraying a world wide holding of hands after disgraceful attacks. #JeSuisCharlie was a powerful instance of social media uniting the world after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, it was a simple way of showing that we are all in this together. Similarly, social media was used fantastically in the wake of the Tunisian shootings. It's such a simple tool, and on the face of it, it does seem meaningless to have a 'trending hashtag' to those not in the know. However, social media is used by the majority of the world, and to know that worldwide everyone is discussing the same thing, fighting for the same cause, it quite something.

of course, the hashtag is used on a daily basis for other things. every single day there is a trend related to justin bieber, one direction...or another boy band. this, obviously, does not resonate emotionally with the world on such a scale as PrayForParis, but again - it is quite amazing seeing so many teenagers and young people around the world coming together to celebrate and share something they feel so passionate about. growing up, i didn't have this outlet, and if i was to be 14 in 2015, i can't say that i wouldn't be an avid one direction fan, tweeting my love every day. (sorry, not sorry).

i liken it to the image above, of lanterns lifting into the sky and floating everywhere. we can use our words to spread light all over the world, one tweet might not seem important to you - you may not get favourites, retweets or replies. but one person may see you've tweeted, and feel inclined to do the same. the chain goes on.

i hope that social media continues to be a social for the world to cry on in situations like this, and one that we use for the better - after all, what other platforms speak to the everyday person on such a personal level everyday? 

until next time xo 

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