The hash-tagging reflex

I read a poem recently about the Paris attacks. The poem was created by travel show host Karuna Ezara Parikh. Below is the poem:

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Poem by Karuna Ezara Parikh

I posted about it on Facebook shortly thereafter:

This puts things in perspective. The first reports I read on the tragedy in Paris were mainly concerned for the safety of some American bands who were in Paris for concerts. I feel ashamed that I only see and pay attention to the “popular” tragedies. If there is a “hashtag” for Paris, shouldn’t there be a “hashtag” for other places where this happens, too? Shouldn’t all those be “trending”? I am ashamed of my own ignorance.

I’m not one to put politically-charged, or even politically-flavored thoughts up for the world to see. My approach has always been, if I’m not an expert, why should I voice my uninformed opinion and add to the rabble of voices out there?

But something has been nagging at me the last few years, with the rise of social media and its power to (dis)inform the masses. It really is in congruence with Karuna’s poem.

What is the threshold for a trending social media topic?

Like, at what point does Facebook say, “Okay, we’re going to create a cool-looking photo filter now so that users can utilize it and show their support for a cause”?

What does it really mean to #prayforparis? Why not #prayfortheworld? There’s shit going on everywhere, because that is what the world is. It’s shit that varies in flavors and colors and stink level.

Why are certain tragedies more trend-worthy than others?

This is something I’ve been trying to figure out since the pound sign became the hashtag. I mean, do you know??? Do people even know what they’re hash-tagging about?

For me, it just feels so non-commital to hashtag a term that millions of people are hash-tagging about, too. It’s almost like going, “Oh, I didn’t have time to read several well-sourced articles on this topic, but I’m going to show my ‘support’ because everyone else is doing it!”

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“Trending:” The icon that triggers the hash-tagging reflex

I know. -deep breath-

I know, I know. There probably are people who are absolutely educated about the causes and events they are publicizing on social media, and they probably are incredibly emotionally invested, for all I know.

And maybe those that don’t know too much about it want to lend their support in some way, out into the cyber-void, all saturated with good intentions.

But chances are, the people who really do care and are well-informed are not making casual social media gestures like this. They’re out committing themselves to making the change happen. I am, by no means, one of those amazing people. But I admire them for taking the exhaustive time it takes to genuinely know a subject and care deeply about it.

What do you think? Please call me out if you think I’m completely wrong or off-base. It’s just, I’m tired of the nonchalance I detect sometimes, looking at my feeds.


DAY 16 ASSIGNMENT: Mine Your Own Material

Imagine a shopper searching for vintage items at a flea market, or an artist using recycled materials to build a sculpture. Can you dig through your online treasures and build upon old stories and existing writing? Here are more ideas:

  • Take a peek in the drafts section of your dashboard. Can you use unpublished copy in a new way?
  • Scroll through your Facebook wall and see if any posts catch your eye. Do you feel the same as when you first posted it? Can you comment on how you’ve evolved?
  • Look at the stream of tweets you’ve favorited over time. Why did you favorite a particular tweet? What does your list of favorites say about you?
  • If you use the Tag Cloud Widget, scan the terms in your tag cloud. Can you write prose or poetry that uses most of these words?
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