Why Hashtag Activism Should Be Replaced By Greater Action To Make A Difference In The World

The abduction of more than 300 girls from a school in Chibok, Nigeria, by Islamic extremist group, Boko Haram, has sparked global outrage and conversation surrounding the issue since taking place in April.

In an effort to bring attention to the problem, Nigerian lawyer Ibrahim M. Abdullahi started the viral hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, which eventually became a great photo op for First Lady Michelle Obama.

While no one is disagreeing with the sentiment, hashtag activism is nothing but a narcissistic attempt to appear more educated and a way to jump on the latest social action bandwagon with minimal effort exerted. Hashtags have never and likely will never influence foreign policy.

This is not to say that the idea of using social media to elicit change and incite conversation is impossible. It is possible and it can make a difference, but needs to happen the right way.

So, if our global activists seek to prevent such a tragedy from transpiring again, here are some ways we can truly be agents of positive change:

Broaden our horizons.

The girls were abducted in mid-April and the story was reported to most major media outlets, yet few people read about it until it became a prominent US news story. Realize that there is a big world out there and take some time to read global news stories. You might find an issue that impassions you.

Hold our politicians accountable.

Since we elect our politicians, technically, they should work for us. Find out who your congressmen/women and senators are; email them, tweet them or even call them. Keep bothering them until they start to bother their superiors. Encourage your friends to do the same.

During election time, find out where they stand regarding issues about which you care. Almost every politician has a website that outlines his or her issue positions and campaign agendas. Find one who cares about prioritizing human rights.

Campaign against sending foreign aid to corrupt governments.

The United States sends foreign aid money to countless countries in Africa under the pretense that it’s helping the people. Unfortunately, much of this money goes into the pockets of corrupt dictators and politicians while people suffer.

Amnesty International states that, “Nigeria must meet its obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law.” Until they do so, we need to keep pressing our political leaders to vote against funding nations that blatantly violate human rights.

Unfortunately, Nigeria is not the only country that has been known to enable terrorist and other extremist groups. There are many other countries that receive US aid dollars that have been known to be in gross violation of human rights, especially in regards to women.

In many Middle Eastern countries, women don’t have the same rights as men, yet the US continues to do business and give these countries money because of oil interests in the region.

Educate yourself about where our tax dollars are going and if you discover that they are going toward countries that have archaic views toward women, use social media to spread the word and hold our politicians accountable.

Stop tweeting and start doing.

There are countless legitimate charities that help to provide assistance for schoolgirls in Africa and abroad. Find out how you can donate financially or volunteer to help them.

Even in the United States, there are mentoring programs for at-risk girls as well as immigrant girls, many of whom fled countries like Nigeria in hopes of a better life in the US. Volunteer and tweet about open opportunities to volunteer and make a difference.

Only after we become educated and involved will we end up making a #realdifference.

Photo credit: WENN