Monday, August 11, 2014

Twitter Hashtags are very necessary

For me, twitter has always been two things: One, a way to network and meet new people. Two, find out what's going on in the world (no matter the topic). And this was exactly the case when I logged on this past Saturday night. Just coming off a great bloggers’ brunch hosted by Erica of Everything EnJ. I took to twitter to follow all the lovely ladies I'd met that afternoon. In doing so, my timeline was filled with tweets about Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man who was fatally shot by a Ferguson, MO police officer.

As with most things that become a major topic of conversation on twitter, a hashtag (#mikebrown) was being used. On Sunday morning Michael’s death was still being discussed on twitter. People were sharing their opinions on everything from how black men need to act when dealing with police officers, to the sad truth that this is our new reality- which actually isn't new at all.

Then the above picture popped up on my timeline with this comment: "...hit me up when you're ready to actually turn up instead of talk/tweet it up."

I get it. And this tweeter is absolutely correct. We are a society of all talk, no action. I'm guilty of it. When certain things happen, we tweet, write articles, and spark conversations about it. But once all the media attention dies down we move on to something else.

But in my opinion, tweeting about an issue IS a form of taking action. Hashtags and twitter convos about such incidents are very necessary. For one, they bring awareness to issues that might not get covered by the news media. (I work from home and CNN plays in my background for at least four hours a day. Time and time again, the anchors will note that whatever they are about to report was brought to their attention by a twitter hashtag.)

This was the case with the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag. Though many criticized it and said the hashtag was pointless. As in, it wasn't actually going to bring back the 200 Nigerian school girls, who were kidnapped by a militant Islamist group. But the hashtag was effective in bringing about awareness and media coverage.

In the case of Michael Brown, if it weren't for twitter I wouldn't have known anything about his death until today; yesterday the cable news stations reports were all about Gaza.

Of course that is an important story, as we do need to be aware of world affairs. But I was shocked to see (not see) that the killing of ANOTHER unarmed black man was not important enough to garner a Sunday morning news report (or maybe there was, and I missed it).

My point: Twitter hashtags are important and they do serve a purpose. These hashtags give us access to eyewitness accounts and parts of the story that, without twitter, we may never hear. Hashtags allow us to read all the pieces and form our own opinions. Most importantly, hashtags are a way to keep people informed.

We need hashtags for Michael Brown. We need hashtags for Eric Garner. And we still need hashtags for Trayvon Martin. Just like we needed them years ago for the countless other stories of injustices that we never knew about (because gatekeepers deemed them unimportant). Keep tweeting ya'll, it works.

Food for thought:


  1. Well written- Twitter alone will not change the world but Twitter mixed with action has toppled nations.