Why I Really Don't Like Hashtag Activism

If you can’t tell by how often I post on here, I basically live on the internet. I’m a self-proclaimed Instagram addict, I frequent Tumblr, I always post on Twitter, and I talk to more people through Facebook than in actual face-to-face conversation.

So when the internet inevitably blows up with hashtags about current events, I find myself thinking about this video from BlimeyCow:

Just replace “liking the Facebook page” and “wearing the t-shirt” with “copying the latest hashtag” and “posting about the news on Instagram” and you pretty much have the definition of “hashtag activism.”

I’ve experienced a few hashtag activism events in the past few years. The most infamous one being what I call the “Wendy Davis Incident of Tumblr 2013.” One major downside to being on Tumblr is that the longer you’re on the site, the more you start to realize that the site is a hive mind. And said hive mind comes in the form of embracing a distorted version of social justice and constant refrains of “check your privilege.” Anyone that doesn’t fit into their Alice-in-Wonderland version of right and wrong is called a bigot and any post that disagrees with their mindset usually gets reblogged with a lot of replies that boil down to “let me show you how wrong you are.” Julie Borowski talks about this in one of her videos:

Currently, there are two hashtags that really irritate me. One relates to the current riots in Baltimore over a black young adult who died while in police custody. Is it just me or are they all starting to blend together? Cop shoots black kid or black person dies from some kind of cop violence, black kid is innocent, riots and protests ensue, people hate cops. I’m getting stick of this! And what’s not helping things are social media invites to “purge.”

purgebaltimore

For those who don’t know, the term “purge” comes from the awful movie series that centers around one night where crime is legal. In the world of social media, “purge” has become the new way of saying “riot.” And sadly, even the best and brightest young adults of social media see these riots as justified. To quote someone I used to follow on Twitter: “Riots are the language of the unheard. Are you listening?” When I shared this with a fellow online friend, he replied with: “Riots are the language of people who want to riot. Can you hear glass breaking? Also, has she ever heard of Kristallnacht? There was some rioting there.”

My friend Cordelia said this:

I hate Hashtag Activism. It’s good for things with require a brief spurt (like the TwitterBowl for the Chris Evans/Pratt hospital stuff. It would end in about a week, no matter what), but it fizzles out long term. Society must “trend”. What’s the buzzword of the day. Is it “Feminism” is it “Problematic” is it “Liamisthepoolcleaner” There is no steadiness. And that’s something ANY movement needs. And all of this isn’t to say that there ARE no issues. Racism is clearly still a problem. So is Feminism, whether first or third world countries. But there are wide divides between “Calling out” behavior (which might not even be calling it out and just straight up bullying” and manufacturing an issue.

Hashtags are… useful. They truly are. They can be a way to connect people. But they can also be used to say “I support something” but never put anything concrete forward. This works for things like TV shows and spreading news from places which you can’t visit, or even for something national but ethereal like mourning over someone’s death. But to use it to promote change can’t always work. People either get swept up in the excitement and the dismissal of anyone “Behind the curb” or it fizzles out through it’s own exhaustion. That being said, it can promote change too. But those are always minor or on the fence anyway.

The worst thing is that, being a semi-citizen of tumblr, part of this hashtag activism also involves many people quoting a line from Mockingjay: “If we burn, you burn with us!” For crying out effing loud, this is not Panem and society is not President Snow. I actually read the Hunger Games trilogy and you are taking that line completely out of context! With franchises such as Hunger Games, Divergence, Maze Runner, and The 100, it makes me think that young adults almost want an apocalypse to happen just so that they can have an excuse to rage against the establishment. Once again, all the stories start blending together.

And to think, almost a month ago, my biggest complaint about the internet was everyone fighting over a god-awful dress.

The other hashtag that’s really bugging me is #LoveMustWin, the hashtag relating to the Supreme Court possibly making gay marriage legal nationwide. Here’s the thing: the people who created this hashtag don’t even know what love really is! Love is not just “oh I want to marry this person and be with them for the rest of my life.” There is a bigger love involved: God’s love. I also hate how forceful this hashtag sounds. Like love must win at any cost, even at the expense of imposing on those who don’t agree with you.

Being asexual, Cordelia had this to say about #LoveMustWin:

Catholics, are by our very nature “Problematic” to the modern viewpoint. We are very much against racism and so on, but fight against modern feminism with our insistence that male and female are equal and different which runs uncomfortably against Brown vs Board of education’s “Separate but equal” even if they are different.

Not to mention the even internal debates over gender identity and our current debate over Queerness and how some well meaning Catholics do come across as homophobic even if they do not intend to be. But by being against Gay Marriage in the first place we are automatically “Homophobic” and anyone who does not fit into the idea is ostracized. This INCLUDES Queer Catholics who agree/disagree on various issues.YES Love must win… but not that love. God’s love. Which is not necessarily Romantic love, no matter who designs it that way. (INCLUDING the Church. There’s a lot of bride/groom imagery which doesn’t always work.) This isn’t a heresy deal. And some of us do not get it. Or drift to other ideas of love due to various sexual natures. Why do other queers have such a narrow definition of A)What it means to be queer and B)what you HAVE to support if you’re queer?

I’m gonna be offering my Divine Mercy Chaplet to everything going on right now. If there’s anything the world needs to understand right now, it’s the concept of mercy.

Speaking of which, my latest post for the Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship Mercy Study is up. Read it here. I’ll leave you with this excerpt from a previous study and ask that if you’re gonna be on the internet discussing current events, do so with compassion and mercy towards everyone.

Compassion and mercy are often affiliated with each other because it takes an understanding of suffering and a desire to alleviate one’s suffering in order to be merciful. It’s not always easy, obviously. More often than not, we get angry and make snap judgments. Sometimes, compassion and mercy are the furthest thing from our minds. But the key here is sympathy, having the ability to understand another person. Once we put ourselves into someone else’s shoes, having compassion and mercy for them becomes a bit easier.

 The image shared is from Heavy.com and was used for editorial purposes only.

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