Last year, the world united after 276 girls were abducted from their school in the town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria by Boko Haram, the Islamist Jihadist and terrorist organization. The hashtag, #BringBackOurGirls, swept through Twitter after the kidnapping, evoking an online conversation and movement.
Many prominent individuals shared their concern and support for Nigeria and the missing girls by posing with the twitter hashtag and posting their responses all over social media. Some of those that joined in include: Emma Watson, Michelle Obama, Cara Delevingne and Blake Lively.
Quite naturally, this attempt to promote awareness caused controversy over media ethics. American conservatives dismissed this attempt as “simply an exercise in self esteem,” that would in no way affect the Islamic terrorist group.
Some have criticized this as a form of “click-tivism” or “slack-tivism,” two words that basically mean, as stated in the article “Did the “bringbackourgirls campaign make a difference in Nigeria?,” “the lure of supporting a campaign perceived to be in vogue – before swiftly moving on to the next.”
I disagree. Not only did people all around the world come together to recognize this atrocity and unite as one to hope for the girl’s safety, but this massive social media movement promoted awareness. If not for this hashtag, (which by the way, brings about attention to all other media outlets such as: print media, broadcast media, online media, etc.) many would be in the dark about this massive social injustice.
Social media has become a new, efficient and effective form of discussion in contemporary society. It has allowed us all to communicate openly and quickly with one another to spread messages that would otherwise be left unheard.
Social media has played an incredibly important role in bringing this issue to the forefront of the agenda involving world leaders. Though this online movement cannot make change on its own – it has the power to attract the attention of those that can implement change and make an impactful difference.
Twitter is full of engaged citizens ranging from politicians, journalists, celebrities, social organizations, as well as the interested public, all together having a conversation that in reality, affects the world. Social injustices are relevant to us all, no matter where or to whom.
With the help of the millions who tweeted the hashtag and spread the word of the missing Nigerian girls, millions more became aware. Did the message reach the kidnappers, Boko Haram? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. Did this campaign reach the heart of humanity? Yes, I think it did.