This week’s readings focused on online activism, how it comes about, and whether or not this type of social movement is effective. Online activism is very present in my life, from seeing (and participating in) various hashtags on Twitter/Instagram to the use of Facebook to promote social justice causes within the UCLA community by changing cover photos, etc.
This week’s readings reminded me of a recent hashtag that trended on Twitter last month, #ChapelHillShooting. This hashtag revolved around the deaths of three Muslim students near the University of North Carolina. I remember discovering the hashtag on Twitter while I was up really late doing homework, as it was breaking news people were trying to spread awareness of the event and were also voicing their anger over the lack of coverage in mainstream media channels like CNN, ABC, NBC, etc. It was all over Twitter, so I turned on my TV and flipped through the big news channels and it was true, there was no mention of this particular breaking news. Twitter was the most active and mobile platform in which the information on this tragedy was spreading, as the online community kept spreading this hashtag until it was one of the top trends.
Another use of a hashtag, also involving discussion against religious stereotypes and backlash, is that of #Muslims4Lent. The idea behind it is to gather Muslims to show interfaith solidarity with Christians and Catholics who celebrate lent. An article on this can be found here.
These two instances, for me, relate to the idea of transmedia storytelling and transmedia organizing, as described in the Constanza-Chock reading. Both of these concepts play off each other and involve the use of multiple media platforms to create a unified story and mobilize/launch opportunities for action. The aforementioned hashtags were ways of bringing people together through online action to advance a greater social cause. They seemed to be effective in creating awareness and participation. They told specific stories through this online tool. Yet, the question still remains on whether this kind of social movement can be considered true activism. I can see and understand where the term “slacktivism” comes from, because does tweeting a hashtag really create physical change? However, is the spreading of knowledge and awareness through the use of transmedia storytelling/organizing through things like hashtags better than doing nothing at all?