46. Hashtag Activism

Hooray! It’s everybody’s favorite time of the year! No, silly, not the beginning of summer! I’m talking about the time a random outbreak of senseless violence in America turns into an overblown national controversy. OK, it might not be YOUR favorite (unless you work for CNN) but it is a little odd how these things just seem to happen annually now.

It’s pretty safe to say by this point that more people are probably aware of the story of the UCSB “shooter” than the plot of Lord of the Rings so I won’t waste my time, your time, or webspace recapping what is basically the alternate, sad ending to American Pie. And for the record, I have not read this kid’s manifesto. As a rule, I don’t read things by psychopaths or lunatics. It’s the same reason I’ve been putting off reading Mein Kampf. It also vaguely pisses me off that because of all this sensationalism, his batshit autobiography will see a higher readership than this blog ever will. I know I’m funnier than this kid.

And if I wanted to read an unreliable first person account of a sexually frustrated antisocial student, I would re-read Catcher in the Rye.

Personally, I hate this kid the most for being responsible in raising the Internet’s Annoyance Factor exponentially. Ever since the shooting, social media and news outlets have been clogged like a fast food bathroom with articles about him and his virgin-ness in a national campaign to once again reduce an immensely complex issue to the simplest explanation possible. The kid hated women because they wouldn’t have sex with him. Therefore, massacre. It’s obvious, really. Who needs years of psychoanalysis and research when you have a Youtube video and a few Buzzfeed articles?

Thus, the hashtag #YESALLWOMEN was born so that we, as a people, can join together to fight the patriarchy with the power of the internet so that we will never experience violence again.

Right, guys?

It’s not that I don’t take the issues brought up by the shooting seriously. I just find slogans and symbols standing in for actual activism something that deserves to be mocked and derided. #YESALLWOMEN is just one in a series of ultimately meaningless slogan based “movements” that exist only to give the majority of our ADD-driven, narcissistic culture the chance to play-act at activism, paying lip-service to something that will not matter one fucking iota to them after a month passes and we’ve found something new to be outraged about. See also: #KONY2012, #bostonstrong, and most recently #bringbackourgirls.

It’s pure fucking pageantry and does about as much to advance the feminist movement and women’s rights as masturbation does for my sex life.

And wearing these cured cancer.

It’s a symptom of the overall problem we as a culture possess whenever we have to deal with serious issues. To actually get up and do something might interfere with our job, our social life, or our TV viewing schedule. We seem to have this unconscious belief as a culture that if we just THINK REALLY HARD ABOUT PROBLEMS as a group then all of that invisible thought and concern will take physical shape and deal with the problems for us. Thus, Hashtag Activism. I, for one, will always remember when all those #bringbackourgirls hashtags banded together, marched into the heart of the Nigerian jungle, fought the Boko Haram, and actually brought back our girls. Triumphant moment for everyone involved.

I guess what I’m saying is to stop half-assing it. Quit posturing. If something actually stirs you up inside, stand up for it and work. Educate yourself, seek out like-minded individuals and groups, find out what’s going on in your local and national government, find out where you can fight the fight. Don’t repost some hashtag slogan on the internet like a 14 year old that doesn’t understand how the world works. Maybe then we’ll start taking it seriously.

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