#HashtagMovementsMatter

 
Photo Credit:  BBC

Photo Credit: BBC

I am sick of hearing that social media movements or activism online is illegitimate and subordinate to the protests of part. Rather, such arguments illuminate a nostalgia for great public stunts that set underwires on fire an overturned cars. Firstly, such movements succeeded because they were spread through the public consciousness by the predominant media available - either word of mouth, or traditional media platforms of print and even, perhaps television. Movements that go viral over digital media is just that next step as the media landscape and our daily consumption of media is exponentially saturated by online media platforms.

Secondly, when do we finally begin to marvel - without an immediate sense of doubt and concern - at the true phenomenon that digital social movements are able to create and mobilise; spanning continents and time zones and demographics? Beyond the restrictiveness of 140 characters and a continual and perhaps losing battle of the news media against entertainment and its infiltration into hard news, viral, hashtag movements have achieved social and political shifts that would just not be possible without social media.

Before your eyes could even reach the next corner int their roll, take a moment to appreciate that when I mention Black Lives Matter or The Dress, you know exactly what I mean.

For one, the Dress divided a international community over the colours of a admittedly un-spectacular dress that defied all sense of unscientific logic of what colour it actually boasted. With one of the simplest turns of phrases - in the dress - an instant visual image and the subsequent coverage of its viral debate between Team Black and Blue and Team White and Gold would manifest in one's mind. If that doesn't demonstrate an inherent power in social media, I'm terrified as to what it would take to truly demonstrate how even the most mundane things could shut down the great World Wide Web.

Moreover, a recent campaign from the Salvos demonstrated an incredible opportunity to turn even the most mundane into an incredibly powerful social message about domestic violence and the taboo that continues to surround it and subsequently deter victims from ever speaking about their tragedies. There is not only great opportunity but great responsibility that can be elicited from this whole viral business.

Secondly, a more deliberate social movement such as Black Lives Matter may be criticised as simplifying a historical and complex issue as African American discrimination and injustice. Yet, the greater tragedy is that even the most simple statement that Black Lives Matter - something that should be taken for granted and not even warrant an acknowledgement but be casually and subconsciously infused into cultural and societal norms and values - highlight the existence of a deep entrenched injustice, that despite the "progress" of civil rights movements, have obviously failed to eliminate.

I was particularly encouraged by the recent Internet #Blackout that challenged media representations of Black men and women by defying ideas of beauty and stereotypical media representations by encouraging Blacks to post selfies and photographs of themselves. Not only is that empowering in itself - as I am never one to post up a selfie unless I'm accompanied by at least three VSCOcam and Instagram filters - but also it so effectively challenged the norms and celebrated a wonderful idea all in one.

Things like this - challenging norms, representations and the media itself as other movements like #NotYourAsianSidekick have pursued - is the new age of civil and social movement; and could not be possible without the crowdsourced, universal power of social media.

This is a new era; it is new media and so it is time for a new revolution. Or the recognition that the same types of revolutions that stand up for the rights of the minorities and challenge the elites must be made new too; in 140 characters of less and with a catchy hashtag.