9 January 2013

What Really Grinds My Gears Wednesday: Hashtag Campaigns

Hello faithful readers of five. Time for a new (hopefully weekly if I can stop being lazy) feature!

I know I said I would be more grateful in 2013. But when so much stupid exists in the world, in the interest of sanity, I really should allow myself at least one day to vent. Or drink. But venting doesn't kill the liver.

You know what really grinds my gears? Hashtag campaigns.

Hashtag campaigns (a.k.a. #insertcampaignhere) are campaigns that originate on Twitter. They are usually about political issues (like #occupywallstreet, #idlenomore #stopKony2012), but they can also include campaigns against corporations or other entities. My specific beef for the purpose of this post is about politically motivated campaigns.

The issue I have is not with raising awareness about important social issues. I think it is good and healthy to discuss topics that affect us directly or indirectly. I think it is important to highlight things that are broken in society.

My issue stems from the fact that, at least so far in my observance, if not done right, these campaigns are polarizing and pointless and stray so far from the issue that nothing actually happens.

Here is a list of everything that typically goes wrong with the campaigns:

  1. They are usually ideologically driven, and those who drive it are not interested in hearing other points of views but their own.
  2. Should you offer a different, valid point of view, you are labelled a _______. (Fill in the blank. Usually racist/sexist/elitists comes up, but by no means are the labels limited to just those).
  3. It brings out the nastiest comments from both the left and right, and ends up becoming a mud-slinging tweet-off.
  4. The "facts" or "proofs" are usually cherry-picked, ignoring all other documents, news or court decisions related to the topic. Especially if the word "charter-right" or "amendment-right" enters the fray. 
  5. The issue itself is based on a ton of misinformation right off the bat (not that anyone cares). So the warlord we are supposed to stop is not even in the country or power anymore? Minor details. So the chief starving herself is in knee-deep in highly questionable conduct at her own reserve? Minor details. 
  6. It creates a bunch of sheeple who know nothing about the topic, except for the 140 characters they read from other sheeples, and they all of a sudden become experts. That 40 year old housewife is all of a sudden a legal and constitutional expert. That 16 year old teenager, whose whole life revolves around Justin Bieber, cares so-o-o much about child labour (while everything she owns that her parents bought her is made via child labour).
  7. Journalists and newscasts fixate on all the wrong aspects of the topics, don't ask the right questions, portrays one side as victims and the other side (usually government) as villains. The only time they actually care to portray all the facts is when one side (usually the movement) does some grievance against a journalist. Oh the humanity of it all!
I don't pretend to know about what the hell the #idlenomore campaign is. Up until I started tuning in, I thought it was an environmental movement to stop idling your car. I don't have a clue about treaty rights. I don't have a clue what the constitution says, or what the courts have said, or what the issues are in the aboriginal community. Which is why I have not participated in the campaign. I am not an expert, so I will not pretend that I am.

However, I do think Theresa Spence's antics are taking away from real issues with the government and aboriginal communities relationship. Attacking the government and starving yourself isn't going to make a her reserve look any less ghetto, address why she and her boyfriend appear to be knee deep in corruption, or find out where the money given to her reserve has gone (certainly not to the people or infrastructure). I call bullshit.

Fact is, both the government and the aboriginal community (and the larger Canadian society) need to start addressing aboriginal issues. With all parties at the table. Discussing the actual issues, and how to address them. And each side will need to concede things to move forward. That is a fact. Dispute that

I am not against people having an opinion on a topic. That is healthy. But don't just spout rhetoric as an "expert" and slag other people with different points of view in the topic. If you are not interested in engaging in real dialogue,or interested in researching the topic, or interested in hearing all points of views, go back to tweeting angry cat memes. 

1 comment:

Joanna said...

Love the new feature!! You really are in your element when you're passionate and fired up about things. (Remind me never to get on your bad side... ahem.)

Very insightful post!