“On April 15th, 230 School girls were kidnapped from the Chibok Government Secondary School by Boko Haram Terrorists in Nigeria. All 230 are still missing.”
The campaign demanding their rescue has rapidly spread across social media, in particular the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. I am in no way questioning the validity and effectiveness of this campaign – I think the methods undertaken have been excellent in spreading awareness for the missing girls. Nor do I believe use of the hashtag should be discontinued because it has become a recognisable and strong slogan that can be used in protests. However, my question is – does a share show you care? When millions of people all over the world are hash tagging or posting photos in support of a rescue mission, how can one differentiate between those who are truly passionate about the cause and those who are merely following the trend? Does it even matter?
When news of the kidnapping first broke out and the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls was born, it was a demonstration of the emotion that the event evoked and an attempt at raising awareness. Like Kony 2012, it worked and everyone became aware. Now that they are, the hashtag isn’t going to change anything. It merely says “I’m a human, I have emotion, I feel empathy and this story has affected me.” That message can’t swoop down and save these girls from their kidnappers. It has been over a month since the girls were taken and all bodies of power which have the ability to save them have long been aware. The actions of these bodies will determine if and when they are rescued.
Whether or not a share means you care, do we really want a trending hashtag to be the face of the campaign. Shouldn’t it be something more visual, more powerful, more active? I can’t help but imagine how they would feel, coming out of such a horrible situation and being told that the whole world has been supporting their plight, only to find that people were claiming to be taking action by typing four words on social media. The image featured is the inspiration for this post, and a testament to this idea. The girl is faceless and only recognisable through the hashtag. How many people really care about the girls behind the hashtag, and how many are just following the trend? In general, how many people support something on social media without following through with some kind of action or change of perspective? It’s something we’re all guilty of.
In a world where people are constantly connected to the internet, we are forgetting how actions speak louder than words – and it is actions which will bring the girls home.