Meaningless Hashtag?

Photo credit: Wisdom Tucker
“If it had happened anywhere else, this would be the world’s biggest story. (source)” I’ll admit that I shared this sentiment within the first few days of hearing the story through some mainstream media outlets. But in all fairness, I think it is now the world’s biggest story, and I love that. Let’s give credit where it’s due.
Today marks one month since more than 200 girls were kidnapped from their school dormitory in Nigeria. When I first started hearing about it, I had images of men storming the school with weapons and kidnapping the girls during the school day; that’s how scarce the details were. News channels are now inundated daily with new information, and it’s no coincidence that this happened after we started seeing an influx of posts on social media with the hashtag: #BringBackOurGirls.

So no, “Ranger Up (and others like him),” hashtags won’t bring these girls back. I seriously doubt anyone thought they would, not even Michelle. But before you get too comfortable on your high horse and declare the sharing of this hashtag meaningless, put aside your political rants and your hatred for the Obama family (funny how everything somehow comes back to that; when did it become about them?), and consider the results. What pushing this hashtag on social media did do was bring awareness where there was none. What it did do was make these girls our own, regardless of where you’re from. It made us–even just for a second–put ourselves in their places, in their parents’ places, and feel empathy. It gave us a drive to want to see something done–to demand it–while we knew we personally couldn’t rectify the situation. The world now knows, and there’s been a demand–a cultural demand–to do something about it. That, in my book, makes it meaningful.

I love the above photo, not only because it was taken and posted by someone I greatly admire both personally and professionally, but because it speaks to the effectiveness of this campaign. I love the element of creativity; it breaks away from the more prevalent images. And it’s a nice juxtaposition: a tiny glimpse of the life of a successful woman in Detroit, connecting with the fear and pain currently gripping the country of Nigeria. Ultimately, isn’t that what it all boils down to? Aren’t we all connected?

I also really like this photo (below). At this point, though, I think the better question would be, “Would you care…?” Or are you too busy making a mockery of the hashtag and grappling at any opportunity to express your political views?


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