The likes of Michelle Obama, David Cameron, Cara Delevingne, Anne Hathaway and so on have been showing their support for the return of over 200 African schoolgirls taken by Islamic extremist group Boko Haram. What I find really interesting about this story is that there is less of a focus on the Islamism extremists that have taken theses girls, burt whole villages to the ground and kill dozens of people but the mainstream media initial reaction not to cover this story at all. I fear racism is still in the media is still rife and if this were over 200 white European schoolgirls the story would have gotten a lot more coverage or any coverage at all than the original story initially got. Only now when people of importance make a point of this tragedy such as Michelle Obama (seen above) do others also hop on the hashtag twitter facebook bandwagon to prove that they too are in touch with their politics.
Campaigns like this have pros and cons. Yes it is a wonderfully effective and fast way in order to increase awareness but awareness isnt exactly going to #BringBackOurGirls. We, the ordinary citizens of the world do not have the power to ensure the safety of theses kidnapped Nigerian girls, we use the hashtag because we do not have the power the leads of the world have and by making it an issue for us it ever becomes an issue for them. For example on BBC Breakfast David Cameron was approached to be part of the campaign live on TV were of course he accepted and then not only held us the hashtag like millions of powerless people did but took steps to find the girls by ringing the Nigerian President offering anything that would be helpful and agreed to send out a team that includes some counter-terrorism and intelligence experts to work alongside the bigger American teams which is a massive step in the right direction.
The problems however occur when as the message becomes viral it also becomes blurred and inaccurate of the original message almost like a game of Chinese whispers. One of the most tweeted and prominent posters for the hashtag campaign features a girl from Guinea Bissou, a country more than 1000 miles away from Nigeria with a photoshopped tear on her face. This girl was not kidnapped and the photo was taken years before the incident yet has been tweeted out by many famous faces such as Chris Brown and Kim Kardashian.
Though there are mistakes made in online campaigns the intentions are still good and still call for a united front to create a positive change. And I’m sure with time hashtag activism will become a powerful way in which to take a social and or political stand in society.