"Seek out the society of your boon companions, drink, play, talk bawdy, and amuse yourself. One must sometimes commit a sin out of hate and contempt for the Devil, so as not to give him the chance to make one scrupulous over mere nothings…" –Luther

Oh, a bunch of whiners got someone to take down a blog post? Yeah, that matters.

#Kony2012 #BanBossy #BringBackOurGirls #YesAllSpecialSnowflakes


Hashtag activism is great when you’re the first few to do it. After that, it’s just more noise among the signal. It’s the MLM of online communication. #curmudgeon


Hashtivism is just status signaling.

To a large extent, yes. But, in at least this most recent case, hashtavism appears to have accomplished its stated goal of having CT change position and take down the post. So it wasn’t *just* status signaling, was it?

The bullet points from my perspective look like this:

  1. Hashtavism’s primary immediate effect is “raising awareness” and “status signaling”
  2. The vast majority of hashtavists won’t take any action beyond the hashtagging.
  3. Given 1 and 2, hashtavism frequently produces far more heat than light.
  4. There are also opportunists who will use the hashtag to build their audience through cheap populsim

However, raised awareness may (and in this case eventually did) effect positive change. So it can’t be all bad, right? End doesn’t justify the means, but we haven’t really established that the means are wrong, just that we have a relative unease with them, for the reasons listed above.

I still find myself thinking I shouldn’t/won’t loudly participate in hashtavism, but I’m not gonna tell others that they shouldn’t.

The purpose of marching in a protest is to signal that there’s a mob capable of violence if it doesn’t get its way.

Hashtivism is just status signaling.


it could be construed as doing a good thing so as to be noticed by others.

Sure, but is hashtag activism any different than any other sort of activism in that way? Hashtags require a lot less energy and commitment than, say, marching in a protest, but when the cause is just we don’t typically level accusations of “doing good so as to be noticed” at the marchers…

when the right hand hashtagged what the left hand was doing …

it might seem a bit weird for some to do hashtags and twitter activism because in addition to not necessarily doing a ton (depending on the setting) it could be construed as doing a good thing so as to be noticed by others. Or at least, Randy, that’s my suggestion/guess as to what can seem a little off about hashtag activism.

On #Activism

I’ve been trying to understand why hashtag activism feels kind of wrong to me.

I think it’s because it’s more like talking about someone than talking to someone.

“Awareness” is thrown around a lot. But I’m pretty sure everyone is already aware of breast cancer. I didn’t learn about it by a pink ribbon. Pink ribbons seem like pretty much of a waste to me.

And hashtags. I don’t know.

Live by the hashtag, die by the hashtag…

Matthew, I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t want opinions. I agree with you that most of the time folks just stop with the hashtag, which is minimally useful at best. (Remember all the people who tinted their profile pics green for Egypt? Or was it Iran? Or was it some other color? Perhaps I’m illustrating my own point.)

I’m not writing about you, Chris, or for Jared, but I have a general problem with hashtag activism in that I don’t know what it actually accomplishes. Are things in life really going to change because some people with smart phones and laptops raised a stink on Twitter (and for the record, it was completely justified. For heaven’s sake, if that were my daughter and her rapist called it a “relationship” or mere “adultery” I’d be cutting through concertina wire to get to him and set him straight)? I think there are far too many people online who think they can tweet a hashtag and think they’ve done something. The people who are hash-tagging in addition to their work in protecting and defending the abused, I’m all for. Hashtag in addition to actually doing something. Don’t use #yesallwomen and then ignore ways in the workplace where women are mistreated. Don’t #takedownthatpost and ignore the potential physical structure problems or volunteer structures in your own church that could lead to a predator taking advantage of a child.

These kinds of hashtags are, as I understand, supposed to raise awareness. If a person doesn’t do something with that awareness, then who gives a crap? Too many people online (and I’m not pointing fingers at anyone who tried to get LJ to take down the post) think they’ve done something once they hit send. If that’s the extent of a person’s activism, shame on them. I agonize over our child protection policy regularly. If 50,000 people came to Christ through the ministry God has given me and one child got molested, I would consider myself a complete and utter failure. Oh, that people would turn off their computers and phones and show up when children are present and help me protect them from evil people.

PS – I think Alastair is right, though. A bunch of well written emails would probably have as much of an impact as a twitter campaign.

What’s an average joe to do?

Randy, I’d be game for an occasional Skype call or Google Hangout or whatever technology would facilitate a podcast. I think it’d be fun.

On a slightly different topic, the Leadership Journal brouhaha last week brought out some varied opinions about the wisest course for online activism. Some called for taking the post down, others for leaving it up and commenting on it. At least one BHT fellow noted how little they liked “hashtag activism”. That has me interested in pushing the question out to the rest of you.

Is there a place for “hashtag activism” and other similar online social media campaigns? On one hand, they seem to generate an awful lot of heat and little light. But on the other hand, as in this last episode, they drew enough attention to eventually incite some positive change.

The BHT’s honorary theologian Alistair Roberts wrote a 400-word comment on one of my blog posts on the topic, recommending instead the course of writing “a calm, charitable, and detailed, yet extremely firm and uncompromising response to the CT piece, offering CT the opportunity to publish it”. Which sounds like a nice idea, and maybe something that would be effective for a writer of Alistair’s (growing) notoriety and (long-standing) erudition, but less like something that the common person could hope to do and cause any change.

So what’s an average online joe to do?