The Power of the Hashtag.
Written by Millie Edmundson.
Making A Case.
Social media. The increasingly advancing technology. Here, I am going to speak on not only the positives but just like many things, the negatives of social media. It’s important I get this message across to you all reading, as we all must be more aware of the downsides of the online world and how one nasty comment can affect other people. So, grab a cup of tea. Sit back. Read.
What Are The Positives?
I have had my fair share of positives and negatives on social media. From gaining over 11,000 followers on Instagram to a point of receiving daily abuse online. Social Media must become a safer place and here’s why:
There are nearly 3.5 billion platform users in the world as we speak. Every user has on average 7 accounts to their names on different platforms. Instagram is the second most popular social media platform after Facebook. Although many people think Facebook is old and dated, it approximately reaches 60.6% of internet users. That’s a huge percentage. So, what are the positives of having an account? There are hundreds of great reasons as to why having a social media account is important for our development as humans.
The positives. There are many of them. I would like to introduce how social media brings people together in moments that matter the most. It has a huge power to raise awareness with issues that need volume and solidarity. There have been many campaigns where people have all come together in the support of the BLM movement, the tragic story of Sarah Everard and the #MeToo campaign. The #MeToo is a campaign that started in 2006 by Tarana Burke on the publicly known issue on Harvey Weinstein. It was created to raise awareness of women being abused and sexually harassed. The #MeToo campaign took eleven years to find global recognition after a viral tweet by actress Alyssa Milano, who also accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. Moments like the #MeToo, Sarah Everard #TextMeWhenYouGetHome and George Floyd, #BlackLivesMatter are just some of the worlds known movements where social media has become a huge positive and one, we should all be proud of. There is no better feeling than tackling issues together and changing lives for the better. I don’t know about you, but I find it crazy how much power a hashtag can have when used correctly.
“We get to live in a time where we get to use social media as a tool”- Gigi Hadid
Not only does Social Media build relationships and bring people together it also educates people. Whether that’s education for a degree or using google to research certain topics, the platforms have immense tools to ensure that people are educated correctly. TikTok, the fastest growing platform in the world is great for tutoring or influencers being specialised in certain topics and teaching viewers new things every day. It could also be as silly as the life hacks; we all love those! I now never have the issue of losing the end of cello tape, just use a paperclip. Duh.
Social Media also brings light into people’s lives. It’s there to play a part in making us laugh, sharing funny photos, memes, videos with friends, cute animals, babies being born into the world. I could go on for days. Remember the ice bucket challenge for ALS? That was a great trend that millions of users jumped on to create some light and laughs.
Another positive that social media has is the capability of building businesses. So many people benefit from this, and some people become very successful entrepreneurs. What is so good about this is that it enables people to have a chance at doing something they are interested in and passionate about professionally. Millions of people shop online, Etsy and Redbubble are platforms where you sell stuff mainly from a small business in order to gain followers and a good customer rating. This is just one way to get more popular when building a business online.
Hashtags are very powerful, when using a hashtag, it puts your post in different feeds and in touch with many more accounts. Hashtags can be used to raise awareness or can be used in moments of being unkind. Just like the #BeKind movement. Social Media isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
When used incorrectly social media can be a dark place. Just one nasty, ignorant, misguided, or negative comment can take a toll on others health. Just rise above it, right? It’s never as easy as that, especially when these people don’t know you as a person. Since the mobile phone market emerged, mental health worries have increased in children and young adults. The rate of adolescents reporting symptoms of depression went up 50% from 2007 to 2017, from 2009 it grew to 63% of adults aged 18-25. Time on social media is increasing rapidly with an average of 142 minutes a day spent on different platforms. The #BeKind movement was created to stop online abuse; it came into use after the tragic death of TV presenter Caroline Flack who sadly took her own life due to ongoing issues in her personal life and the press pressuring the situation without knowing the full story. Thousands of people also had an opinion on her personal situation using vile language and hurtful words towards her. #BeKind became increasingly popular due to the same situation happening too often due to online abuse. It was trending number one on Twitter for over a week. There are still questions to be answered.
Has much changed? Are people nicer to one another? Do people accept other opinions without sending abuse? The answer is no. There is still online abuse and to be honest with you, I don’t think it will end. It’s part of human nature, there is something that makes people feel safe about being behind a keyboard. Platforms like Twitter must be stricter and monitor online bullying more by disabling certain words or the deletion of accounts where abuse has taken place. Companies, in my opinion, are the only people that can start to try and make a difference.
“You don’t have to post it to prove it”.
Another negative of the world of social media is the beauty standards that are continuously shared around. Men and Women have been constantly battling the fake beauty perfections that are set every day on the world’s biggest platforms. Just like many, people use social media to promote business, document their days, message friends but it is also used to post an image of perfection that just isn’t ok. The questions to ask are, how do we know what is fake and what is not?
How do we protect ourselves from the dark side of social media? It makes our minds spiral into thinking we aren’t ‘perfect’. Then that’s where you are mentally challenged into believing you are not enough. Well, there is no such thing as perfect. We are all beautiful in our own ways inside and out. If there is anything you will take away from this blog, please let it be this. We see multiple pictures every day of flat stomachs, plumped breasts, muscular bodies, long legs, perfectly round bums. This in my opinion is not the correct way to promote beauty, skincare, gym, clothing brands. Why is there a plus size and petite section on websites? Can they not put all sizes into one page? So, people don’t feel so bad about themselves? …
Many Instagram models post in bikinis and swim shorts promoting a weight loss product. The majority of these men and women will be paid to post these products which can result in sending out dangerous messages to the millions of followers that could be struggling to gain or lose weight. In reality, a lot of makeup, editing, wigs, hair products go into posting that final picture. It’s designed to sell a product, not support a healthy lifestyle.
Social Media can be seen in two lights. It just depends on how each individual views it. The negatives are of course less than the positives, but I think some can overpower. The downsides can be quite hard to control. We as humans must support others, not be jealous, keep negative thoughts to ourselves and hopefully, the online world will become easier over time. #BeKind
There have been many campaigns where they have been a success. Many where they have been controversial. One of my favourites is the recent Aldi Cuthbert the Caterpillar court case. This was when M&S took Aldi to court because they believed Cuthbert was too similar to Colin. Nothing compares to Colin. It was humorous and got many people jumping on the news story and sharing it with friends. The cake became sold out very quickly due to the viral Twitter posts across the country. How did Aldi respond? By making SO MANY jokes on their Twitter page. The Aldi twitter gained thousands of followers as a result. With one tweet saying #FreeCuthbert. I would say this campaign turned out to be very successful due to the amount of public attention Aldi received. I liked this campaign because they made a serious situation into a light-hearted joke.
On the other hand, Burger King made a huge mistake. As we all know International Women’s Day is on 8th March which celebrates women across the world achieving goals in different industries. It has become a huge success that aims to raise awareness and fight for equality. What did burger king tweet? ‘Women belong in the kitchen’. Not a good move at all. The tweet was described as ‘misogynistic’ and ‘outdated’ towards women’s roles in society. Burger King then did add an explanation tweet and stated that only ‘20% of chefs in UK Kitchens are women’. Whilst I understand the intent of the tweet, it wasn’t a great move by the media team at Burger King. I do feel they could have worded it differently. It’s a very tough lesson learnt due to the heavy backlash they received.
Companies worldwide are always creating different campaigns, the reaction is always important, and the way you market a campaign determines whether it is successful. Although, some companies know very well what the plan is and what they are doing whether it is controversial or not. It’s a clever marketing ploy that by default would efficiently draw attention to the ‘positive’ side of the message.
“Make sure you are happy in real life, not just social media”.
My passion for social media has led me to create an Instagram account that has become very successful over time. My experiences have also made me very aware of the pros and cons of the social world. I will always try my hardest to show others the dangers of social media from experiences and encourage people as to why social media is a positive way forward. 4 years ago, I decided to create an Instagram fan page on my passion, Charlton Athletic.
As a 14-year-old, my confidence was high, and I was so dedicated and determined to do well for myself. Two months in, I gained over 1,000 Instagram followers and that was my fuel to carry on. I had a member of staff at the club contact me asking for a challenge. I obviously accepted it. He said to me, ‘If you get 3,000 followers before the end of the season, I will get you a signed shirt’. This was huge for me and for someone at Charlton to recognise my work was insane. This is where it all started. I then became eager to hit this target by creating a campaign for my end goal, I used the #Roadto3K on every post so people knew what I wanted to achieve.
So, going on a few months I hit my target with eight weeks to spare which I was over the moon about. The team were doing amazing so that probably helped too. I had got so much support all over social media and then had direct messages sent to me asking to do a YouTube channel and document my matchday experience, God loves a trier, so I did this for six months reaching 2,300 subscribers and my most viewed video being at 30,000 views. Mad isn’t it.
I became a ‘little celebrity’ at The Valley as many used to say, I have had some amazing opportunities like taking over the women’s Instagram account on a matchday, winning an award in front of 15,000 fans for my efforts on social media, being invited to different events with the club and a nomination for the FBAs (Football Blogging Awards). So why would I stop? It all seems perfect, doesn’t it? What people never realised was the fact I was so young. I felt immense pressure to keep delivering during my GCSEs and my personal life.
This was the best decision I have ever made; I am now proud to be at 11,000 followers due to my consistency and creativity and constantly coming up with new ideas and content to post. I am also a part of the fans advisory board at Charlton and working closely with the club owner, Thomas Sandgaard. It certainly wasn’t all bad. Those experiences have made me a better person and I managed to discover my passion for social media during that time which I will be forever grateful.
The dark sides to social media. There are many. We each have the power to control it. I hope we can be cautious of what we post and just take that extra minute to think if that comment or post is positive or negative. People can have different opinions but it’s how we get our points across those matters.
Thank you for joining me. Think before you post. Control the controllable.
-NurPhoto on Getty Images – Social Media Apps.
-Lisa Fotios on Pexels – #BeKind. (Lead Photo)
-Logo Photo Illustration on Getty Images – Instagram.
-John Lamparski – Selfie Women.