Heading into the fourth industrial revolution, which will be defined by technological advances, social media has begun to play an important role in society. People use social media to voice their thoughts, highlight problems, and enlighten others. Created in 2006, Twitter is one of the most popular platforms for people to spread awareness of current events through trending hashtags. The following hashtags are currently trending:
#BlackLivesMatter Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a movement that protests against police brutality and racially motivated violence towards black people. The movement began in 2013 and recently returned to headlines following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin. This sparked some of the largest protests in the history of the United States, with an estimated total of 15-26 million participants.
Worldwide activism under #BlackLivesMatter allowed a safe space for black people and other people of colour to speak out against the racism they experience.
#GBV South Africa has the highest rate of women being murdered – it is the most unsafe place in the world to be born a woman. #GBV (Gender Based Violence) trended mid 2019 after the rape and murder of University of Cape Town student, Uyinene Mrwetyana. Her murder highlighted the national problem of femicide in South Africa. After the announcement of the COVID-19 lockdown, statics of domestic gender-based violence shot up. Women were defenseless in their own homes. The hashtag returned and under it people named and shamed the men who had raped or abused them, and told their own stories. By doing this, they caused perpetrators to be dealt with by their workplaces and/or alienated by their communities.
This Twitter hashtag allowed women a sense of justice that had been so long denied to them.
#Lockdown Under this hashtag, people posted their COVID 19 experiences and how they adjusted to the ‘New Normal’. Things such as music covers, cooking recipes, book recommendations, and even attempts at making homemade alcohol as a result of the alcohol ban were shared. People could see that they were not facing this pandemic alone, and they were given new ideas to fight the lockdown blues.