Hashtag activism is a passion of mine, if used correctly we can tackle the issues plaguing our society and get the attention of our elected officials. Traditional news media operates on the premises of news that will capture our attention now. Techopedia defines hashtag activism as “the act of fighting for or supporting a cause that people are advocating through social media like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other networking websites.” If you search #FlintWaterCrisis on Twitter you will see how celebrities and ordinary citizens are using social media to drive change and get help to the vulnerable people of Flint, Michigan. A crisis like this needs to stay in the forefront of our minds. It doesn’t end at the top of the hour. Hashtag activism seems to be the only way to make sure we remember that real people are affected.
NBC’s web page has ongoing coverage of the crisis but you won’t see it leading the evening broadcast. When the shock wears off so does the interest of people that can make a difference. We are in the age of digital activism and awareness promotes change. Bev Gooden (@bevtgooden), the woman who kicked off #WhyIStayed, a hashtag for women who suffered from domestic abuse, stated in an interview with NPR that “the beauty of hashtag activism is that it creates an opportunity for sustained engagement, which is important for any cause.”
Flint, Michigan was once a major hub for auto manufacturing with General Motors employing up to 80,000 residents in the early 1970s. Flint never recovered from the downturn automotive industry took starting in the 1980s. Flint is now an impoverished city with little hope of a comeback to its former glory. They cannot save themselves. The water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan started in April 2014 but did not become news until late 2015. By the time the world was aware of what was going on in Flint children were testing positive for lead poisoning. The faces of the affected residents tell a sad story and there seems to be little to hope for the residents in this once booming city. As a society we need to harness our power and help those in need. We can make a difference through social media. Hashtag, share and retweet your support.
Toinette McDowell @MediaMaven5
Emerging Media Graduate Student