So if your are immerse in social media you have seen the hashtags, you have used the hashtags, you have liked a post that had a hashtag, then you forwarded that post and used that hash tag again to follow more of that story, maybe replied to that message and used a different hashtag to express an opposing view. The hash tag is used to follow stories of our interest, summarizes a point of view, creates a movement, and helps organize or attract followers to a specific event. Some people abuse them or used really long and complicated ones. We may also argue that some of them are created in reaction to another hasthtag, almost like retaliation. I did a bit of research on three hashtags that are going around right now: #blacklivesmatter,#Alllivesmatter and #policelivesmatter. You are welcome to share an opinion here or to do your own research. This is what I found:
- #blacklivesmatter started back in 2012 when Trayvon Martin, a unarmed young black man, was killed by George Zimmerman. The residents in that community where outrage that Zimmerman was not charge with murder right away. It happened a month later and we all know the results. We may argue that in this case the social media outlets and the used of this hash tag helped create a movement and also brought attention to the case. Public pressure mounted and the authorities had to bring up the charges. When I googled this hashttag there were thousands of people talking about it or using it. One of the beauties of Internet is the ongoing interaction of thousands of people. Sadly, #blacklivesmatter resurfaced at least two more times after the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, both in the hand of police officers. Like Nancy Scola from The Washington Post mention on her blog :”#BlackLivesMatter is serving as sort of a catch-all for the bigger idea at work that users are going back to again and again, with more tailored tags emerging as a way of tying each incident into that broader, ongoing, powerful conversation “
- #Alllivesmatter made its appearance when Officer Darrel Wilson fatally shot Michael Brown. It was actually used for the first time in a rally, according to other social media outlets, in support of the officer. I have personally used this hashtag. I thought: “I agree with this one hashtag”, all lives DO matter, white, black, Latinos, Asian, we all matter, right? Well, as I dig more behind the real meaning or purpose of #Alllivesmatters I came to a rude awakening. It was created as a reaction to #blacklivesmatter, to almost take people away from the real conversation about racism and police brutality. It is not that not all lives matter, they do! But the ‘good’ hashtag is doing something really bad, is basically not acknowledging that there are stereotypes or bias in the minds of law enforcement and the public in general. The reality is that it is hard for anyone to admit any preconceived ideas, let alone for police officers or anyone in power to do so. I get it! It is a difficult and uncomfortable thing to admit. It is much easier to hide behind a hashtag.
- #policelivematter started when two police officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, where murdered by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, a young black guy with a long criminal history, in an apparent revenge for the deaths of Garner and Brown. Believe me when I say that in no way I am trying to minimize the deaths of police officers. Everyday police officers risk their lives in the line of duty. We need to honor them and respect them. Some of the users of this tag claim that the protesters have been fueling hate against the police. A lot of those supporters also claim that the police do their job fairly 100% of the time.
You see? Here is where I firmly believe the conversation gets lost and the obvious “tag war” doesn’t really help. If anything it becomes a shouting fest. When one side is screaming and no side is really listening. The divide is evident. Some people are for the social justice and others do not believe that that even exits or that is necessary, that the “race baiters” need to get over it. The creation of #Alllivesmatter and #policelivesmatter, we may argue is the result in part of that lack of acknowledgement that there is a real problem.
We live in an age in which we are “connected” like never before thru technology. I wonder if in this case is just “dividing” us like never before and tags are just a way to sort us into groups.