What is your favourite hashtag activism?
Avas: I don’t know if I can call it a favourite, but one of the global hashtag movements that made a lasting impact in Nepali society too that I found very powerful is #metoo. This showed how if digital media is rightly used, it can build a strong community or an ally to provide a voice for all the victims regardless of gender, age, sex, or sexuality. This activism also warned all the perpetrators that their actions have consequences awaiting them and cautioned others of the same.
Roneeshma: I have seen and supported a lot of them but #metoo would be my favourite. I found it very impactful.
Sanjay: There are many. I love hashtags that have a strong message behind them. To be specific there is the #nohatespeech and #metoo.
Miruna: Favourite hashtag activism: #heforshe #stopasianhate
Can a #hastag bring about change?
Avas: Ever since the #occupywallstreet and #icebucketchallenge initiatives, hashtags proved to be one of the strongest, loudest, and collective new-age mediums of social activism. #icebucketchallenge which was started to raise awareness of a motor neuron disease raised over USD 220 million worldwide. Similarly, #occupywallstreet activism raised several curtains of income inequality and initiated broad political discourses on restructuring minimum wage.
Roneeshma: In this era of digitalisation, just a click on a specific hashtag will automatically direct us to innumerable numbers of posts, tweets or pictures on related topics depending on the platform we are on. And hashtag activism is easing the task of social or political activists in gaining mass support worldwide and helping to raise awareness on social issues at a faster pace. So, it’s very impactful.
Sanjay: Yes, of course it does. This tiny # has accomplished a lot in the past. In fact, hashtags have been a positive influence since they became popular. They have become a medium to share a certain point of view on the internet.
Miruna: A hashtag promotes solidarity and brings people together to support a cause. It helps in spreading awareness about a certain issue and creates an environment where people can find moral support and share opinions and resources about the issue.
What makes a hashtag movement effective?
Avas: You are doing it for a larger reason that may bring out a change in someone’s life, in a neighborhood, in a community, across the region, and beyond. Popular hashtags such as #blacklivesmatter, #metoo, #heforshe, #bringbackourgirls spoke louder across the globe initiating several socio-political discussions to combat social injustices. Hashtags over the decades have become the fastest medium to build a global village that helps in protecting human rights. In addition, hashtags have also proved to be a fun way of promoting any particular product, brand, or creativity.
Even in Nepal, hashtags such as #metoo, #occupybalwatar, #justicefornirmalapanta, among others have been an important way to bring a large group of people to fight for the same cause and keep themselves on track of all developments across Nepal and beyond.
Roneeshma: With the right hashtags, it’s easy for activists to tag relevant content and cut through the noise which helps to raise awareness of social issues and involve interested social media users in mass movement and protest.
Sanjay: Hashtag movements that are used for a cause and demand justifiable action should and will be effective.
Miruna: I believe a hashtag movement becomes effective when there is call to action. These movements need to be backed up by actions that help solve the issue and create real change.
Can hashtags become the future of social activism?
Avas: I cannot really say if hashtags will become the future of social activism because the world is ever so changing and with that, we have been adapting to several new means of mass communication. For now, yes, hashtags play a great role in social activism if used wisely and for a greater purpose. As large as the world of the internet is, we can find as many hashtags today… many of which are misleading, created to divide, created to fuel certain communities in the form of hate speech, and as clickbait. Don’t believe it and start discussing every hashtag discourse. Choose your sources wisely, try following several threads of that hashtag, read what others have to say, read replies to the hashtag to verify what’s going on. Remember, communication is not always about speaking, but more about listening. Social activism is also not always about being a part of it, but first understanding it, learning more about it and patiently planning your move.
Roneeshma: Definitely. By now we all know how social media can change one’s life in just a day. We are living in an era where an ‘egg’ got viral and had the highest likes on Instagram. So, if people can come together for a silly thing like that, there can be a revolution too.
We already have an example of #metoo movement. This movement allowed a global sharing of personal stories and information regarding sexual violence. As women, most of us have faced minor to major discomfort and violence. It was shocking to see how so many women shared their stories. This is the power of social media. The voiceless get to speak up and it’s like a domino effect that creates an impact if done correctly. Some reforms were passed at the state level and have focused on eliminating non-disclosure agreements, extending the statute of limitations for reporting harassment, and the requirement for workplace harassment training. Even a small impact is so important nowadays and this was something really big.
Looking back at all the campaigns, I can definitely say that awareness created through hashtag campaigns is impactful. They can be a part of the larger movement and help in creating awareness but in order to succeed properly, physical engagement and continuous advocacy after the hashtag campaign is necessary. For that reason, hashtag activism has to work hand in hand with traditional activism to initiate changes in the real world. It is super important to fact-check and with the power of hashtags, the journey could be easier and more effective.
Sanjay: Everyone today is aware of hashtags because we use them on a regular basis across various social media platforms. Hashtags are now being used as a vital tool for undergoing activism digitally. Using hashtags for social activism has never been this easy. And in this digital era, they will gradually become the future of social activism.
Miruna: I definitely believe that hashtags will play a vital role in the future of social activism. However, there needs to be an equal amount of participation in the real world followed by continuous advocacy on the issue in order to create lasting change.
Hashtag activism is used mainly by the youth. Your comments.
Avas: Social media has taken up a large space in our daily lives, almost taking over traditional media’s popularity. Everything is online, from jobs to advertisements, discussions, and personal life. Between all this, hashtag culture has been a quick escape for many to discuss, read or view what they particularly feel in life. Hashtags helped build a meta tag over dynamic content making tracking way easier. And research shows that the youth occupy the highest population in creating and using hashtags – be it for a movement on Twitter, Facebook, or simply over a picture on Instagram or Tiktok. Do all of us have to do it all the time to follow the bandwagon? No! Do we have to be accountable? Yes!
Roneeshma: From making a fun #icebucketchallenge with a purpose to promote awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and raise donations, to a topic so sensitive like the #metoo movement, youths are the one who are the most active on social media and we are the future. We have heard, shared and learned from the stories from all over the world.
Sanjay: I believe youths are the key to a door that opens a realm of countless possibilities. Youths are the future. People can take it as an opinion or a statement, but it is the truth. And thanks to being able to live in a democratic country, we get to present our opinion freely. Hashtag is one of those opinions that the youths are using nowadays, especially for social activism and movements. So, what’s the harm in that?
Miruna: It’s inspiring to see the youths of our country being involved in social movements through hashtag activism. As there are very limited platforms for the youth to speak out and be heard, it is inspiring to see them exercise their agency and make a real difference through hashtags.