With the new year, you might find yourself making some resolutions: more gym-time, less caramel macchiatos, and perhaps, finally kicking that social media addiction. But before you pen a tearful goodbye status on your Facebook account, don't forget that the social media world is increasingly being used a tool for social activism. Your twitter feed is a vital insight into the world of 2014.
Here are five activist hashtags you should know about that are already trending in 2014.
The hashtag #NotYourAsianSidekick went viral over Twitter a couple of weeks ago, and is still going strong. It was started by a 23-year-old freelance writer and activist, Suey Park, as a space for Asian Americans to talk about feminism. As Park told Bustle, the hashtag took on a life of its own after she tweeted that she's "tired of the patriarchy in Asian American spaces and sick of the racism in white feminism."
"Believe it or not, those happened pretty spontaneously. It was like, “Oh, that sounds good!” [laughs] I mean, my whole blog is called Critical Spontaneity. Things make sense for a long time and then I randomly do them when I feel like it. I’m very against compulsory work and compulsory organizing, because I feel like it’s just a spectacle and it becomes manufactured. I feel like the revolution or the movement has to be made out of spontaneity and asking “What can my body do today?” And to be really in tune with, say, nature or, in my case as an avid Twitter user, my Twitter followers and what the people I follow back are tweeting about. And determining, you know, where is our collective understanding?"
Over three weeks ago, the world's youngest nation, South Sudan, saw violence erupt in the capital of Juba. The fighting quickly spread — mostly split along ethnic lines — and has since left over a thousand people dead, 200,000 people displaced, and the country on the brink of a bloody civil war. Peace negotiations keep being delayed as political leaders from both sides of the ethnic divide rile up their constituencies. One woman, however, is using social media to fight the violence conflict by a call for unity, using the hashtag #mytribeissouthsudan to urge the South Sudanese to embrace their nationhood beyond the tribal differences.
Just three days ago, a bombing in Lebanon's capital, Beirut, killed at least six people and left another 66 wounded. The city has seen at least five bombings in the past five months, seemingly moving ever closer to being dragged into the many neighboring conflicts. An online campaign is now calling on the Lebanese to protest the normalization of violence, with #NotAMartyr becoming a "place for all those who believe that death is not a solution." Started only at the end of December, the hashtag has already gone viral, and the movement's Facebook group has already attracted nearly 5,000 likes.
A few weeks ago, student activists at the University of Michigan started a campaign using mock eviction notices and the Twitter hashtag #UMMockEviction to raise awareness about the real evictions that are carried out regularly in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The hashtag quickly caught traction on Twitter, gaining both followers and haters — but also bringing forward a wider dialogue that has continued until now.
A hashtag to unite all social movement hashtags, the Common Ground Movement campaign hopes to bring together all social activists under one umbrella, especially when it comes to America's left-wing and right-wing parties. As it says on its website, the movement "is all about getting past the petty, insignificant differences that are constantly dividing us and moving forward on things that actually matter." Amen to that.