I was a little late in acquiring all the details of last week’s horrific shooting in Santa Barbara, but fortunately was able to catch up thanks to the trending #YesAllWomen on Twitter to point me in the right direction. The practice of hashtag activism (or “slactivism” in some circles) has recently come under fire for being a lazy, useless, and trendy-for-the-sake-of-being-trendy mode of communication. But I would argue (and do, for Role/Reboot this week) that hashtags like #YesAllWomen at the very least spread information and draw attention to issues that might otherwise have flown under the radar.
One of the commenters on the original article asked “where is this hashtag conversation going?” if the activism never really branches out beyond our shared words and stories, which is an excellent question. But I think that if we are going to ask that question, why not question the power of written media as a whole? The hashtags themselves aren’t as important as the words and stories they are tied to, which have the power to change the world. If books can radically change mentality and culture (hellooo, Betty Friedan!), so can online messages — albeit in a different format.