Hashtags and Pop-Culture

Chapters six and seven continue on our discussion of participatory culture. These days there is an awareness being created for everything.


If you haven’t seen the video of Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake mocking hashtags, then you need to go look it up on youtube now! It is a hilarious parody of our culture and the importance of hashtags but what Jimmy and Justin might not have realized was how important hashtags can be to participatory culture.

A fun fact that I’m not sure everyone knows is the technical name of the #. I love stumping people with this question. What is the technical name for the hashtag. Mostly everyone’s guess is the pound sign. Nope. Octothorpe. Because of the 8 points and the parallel lines this sign is called an octothorpe. There you go, you learn something new everyday.

Hashtags are a modern way of creating awareness for causes. Tweets and pictures on instagram include hashtags to start an online conversation about these causes. The politics of pop culture and whats trending can be difficult to understand. I believe age and geographical location plays a large part on participatory culture. I am personally not a Beyonce fan. (Although I love and respect the attention she brings to feminism) She is constantly trending. Her Super Bowl performance brought her a lot of good and bad press. Lately she has been all over social media due to her “Lemonade” release. My age group has been up in arms due to her lyrics hinting at infidelity in her relationship with Jay-Z. I personally do not care about this revelation but it is trending on all social media sites.

People who are in an older age group might be more interested in the presidential race or international politics. Hashtags target certain age groups and geographical locations. I might not know what the hashtag #JusticeForFlint means if I’m not from Michigan. Also middle America might not know about #RaiseTheWage if they don’t live in a big city where these rallies take place.

The ability that hashtags have is to raise awareness and allow people to feel a part of something. If you have a social media account you are not able to be an activist. You can fight for what you believe in by posting your opinion. Hashtags, memes and getting the word out allows anyone to feel involved.

A friend emailed me an amazing New York Times article about a year ago. The series investigated the nail salon industry. These journalists found out the secrets of the “spa service” industry that wasn’t well known before. The wages these women are paid are below the means to live. Many asian women in New York share small apartments just to get by. The salon owners help them come to America in exchange for a low paying job. Since I read this story I haven’t gotten my nails done in a salon. I am silently boycotting this industry because I do not agree with the practices. I also tried to spread awareness through my social media accounts by sharing the article. I will do it again here, on my blog.  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/10/nyregion/at-nail-salons-in-nyc-manicurists-are-underpaid-and-unprotected.html?_r=0

Another example was after I watched the documentary “Blackfish.” This movie which can be found on Netflix moved me so much that I wanted to become involved in saving these amazing animals. A few weeks ago Buzzfeed announced that SeaWorld was going to stop breeding their Orcas and they were no longer going to perform shows in their parks. I was so happy that I posted the article to my instagram. http://www.buzzfeed.com/rosebuchanan/seaworld-to-end-its-controversial-orca-breeding-program?utm_term=.fbJ33WGekJ

Participatory culture allows us to feel like activists and bring awareness to the causes that we feel are important. Are people listening? I don’t know, but I hope someone is.