HASHTAGGED, YOU’RE IT! A RUNDOWN OF RECENT HASHTAGS THAT NEED TO GO BEYOND VIRAL
It’s important that we don’t bury these viral talks on the Internet. Keep the conversation of these topics running and alive so it won’t be just another viral thread or tweet.
Social media is very fast-paced and it never runs out of trending topics. Everyday, a certain discussion floats above the rest and gains a spot on the trend list which then fuels more visibility and engagement among social media users.
For the past four months, a lot has happened and has been talked about. People’s patience, endurance, and understanding were tested during lockdown because everyone relates in one way or another. But perhaps it’s become the best time for people to clear their minds at home and start dwelling on smarter discussions about society and politics. As the Philippines struggled to contain COVID-19, a lot of people started to re-evaluate the government. Some reignited past social issues that we’re facing up until today, and then others began to question today’s culture.
So, let’s look at how people reacted to the most recent viral tweets during the lockdown.
This started when Frankie Pangilinan voiced out her thoughts on rape culture and victim shaming as opposed to Ben Tulfo’s notion on inappropriate dressing as an opportunity or invitation for rape. In a series of exchanges, Tulfo, attempted to reduce an opinionated woman voicing her opinion into an “hija” to which she reacted that “it won’t belittle her point”—a clear stance on the integrity she upholds as a woman of the society. Twitter folks began to pick up the term, thus the trend of #HijaAko.
It’s non-debatable. Rape happens due to malicious intent. Through the years, rape has been a sensitive topic because ideals, morals, and traditions clash all the time. But with various studies, we were able to prove that what separates humans from animals was our cognitive ability and to which the latter only works with instincts. Our very mentality lies in reason and intent so involuntary harassment, rape at its worse, is a breach on a person’s dignity and sexuality. It’s just not right and never will be and we have to talk about it because rape and victim blaming is very much apparent nowadays.
A sense of victim blaming also lingers in the words “opportunity” and “desire”. Baring more skin does not always equate to an invitation. That’s the main reason victims are hesitant to come forward, in fear that the recoil will come to them just because they dressed in a certain way. Many victim stories hold evidence that dressing is not constant in every rape scenario. In the What Were You Wearing? exhibit by Jen Brockman and Dr. Mary Wyandt-Hiebert, we see a collection of clothes that rape victims were wearing when the crime happened. Varying from basic Ts, plaids, dresses, and even kids’ attires, there’s a clear indication on how clothes are not the sole subject of attention that leads to rape. Comfortability and expression are just two factors that affect a person’s way of dressing. Let people celebrate their skin, let people feel their oats.
#BlackLivesMatter and #BlackOutTuesday
The Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM) started back in 2013 in response to the wrongful death of Trayvon Martin, an African-American high school student, and the acquittal of his murderer. History will tell you that racial discrimination has always been a global problem particularly in America with the context of White Supremacy. But with more deaths recently including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the movement fueled up again to make noise and cause action to fight against the systemic racism that continues to pervade not just in America but around the world—with #BlackLivesMatter representing the many maligned, marginalized sectors in society that continue to experience abuse and injustice.
However, a significant backfire was caused by the improper use of #BlackLivesMatter. Some would just post a black photo with just the hashtag. This lack of context has become counterproductive to the cause as the hashtag that was created to promote awareness only produced a whole feed of total blackout of information. This is when people began the #BlackOutTuesday to seclude these posts and keep the #BlackLivesMatter filled with more informative posts and discussions.
But the battle for social justice and freedom from oppression still happens today. Some began to consider an #AllLivesMatter campaign to show that equality, as it is, should open a conversation for all skin colors. Here’s the truth about it, saying “All Lives” can pull down the fight on black racism by creating distraction that there’s more value to everyone’s lives therefore placing the lives and experiences of people of color in a funnel along with everyone else’s. But the thing is, the injustices to people of color don’t parallel or reflect what the lives of white people are facing and it’s not right to generalize or blur out the deaths and wrongful accusations targeting black people, specifically, in the fight for equality. Combatting discrimination goes as far as giving equal rights especially with lives at stake. Acceptance and right treatment should also be attained. “Black Lives Matter” doesn’t hold the same principle as “All Lives Matter”. It’s “Black Lives Matter, as well”.
Media celebrity and CEO of news site Rappler, Maria Ressa, was recently found guilty of cyber-libel that relates to a corruption story from 2012 which allegedly links a businessman with a top judge. Through a series of trials, people began to use #HoldTheLine which then became a campaign to keep the freedom of speech and information alive in the Philippines.
It’s critical to say that Rappler’s microtargeting under the Duterte administration is a personal attack on freedom of journalism. But in support of Maria Ressa and the principles of Rappler, several journalist groups and supporters from around the world began to use the hashtag to keep the fight going.
Then recently, another media giant, ABS-CBN, was shut down by the government and the last time it happened for them was at a time of dictatorship. Putting all these together, Hold The Line refers to upholding the democracy of journalism in the country as it is threatened by the recent accusations flying over personalities and media channels. But even for Rappler and ABS-CBN’s sole purpose to deliver unbiased and untarnished news, eyes remained locked on them with a pot of allegations. And should they lose, it may result or affect the wide dissemination of information in the country. With the journalism industry under critical eyes, will you hold the line with them?
Controversial for its content backed by a landslide victory of 70 versus 11, the trend wasn’t as successful as it is loud. After pushing forth the signing of this bill, there was a very brief deafening silence of sadness in social media followed by a barrage of uproar and disapproval from the public.
The bill deems anyone who shows indication or signs of terrorism to be a prospect and liable for jail even without a warrant or a case in pending. This part of the law is what scares most because the broad definition of terrorism under it blurs the line between activism and terrorism. Especially in a democratic country where freedom of speech is largely practiced, the bill sees the act of threat, planning, training, facilitating, proposal and inciting terrorist activities by means of speeches, proclamations, writings, banners and emblems as grounds for criminal acts. Even a banter or dismay on social media can be seen as a sign of disapproval or conspiring with a possible terror activity against the efforts of the government. In this sense, people can no longer simply vent out, express themselves, or spread information in fear of wrongful accusations.
The world heard about this that even Greta Thunberg, a young environmental activist, voiced her support to junk the bill. Filipino artists from around the world also expressed their disagreement including Bretman Rock, Darren Criss, and Manila Luzon.
The history of Pride goes back from the Stonewall Riots in the ‘60s up to this date so every June it is held not as a celebration but a protest to provide equal rights for the LGBTQIA+ community. But it has always been a peaceful protest. This year was no exception until the arrests of at least 20 participants in Manila.
This year, along with the Pride core cause, the protest also involved the disagreement for the Anti-Terror Bill. Carrying with them colorful placards and strong conviction while practicing social distancing, LGBTQ+ groups such as Bahaghari, Gabriela, and Karapatan conducted a protest amidst the eased community quarantine. They followed the protocols of health and safety with respect but unfortunately was met by a full-on riot-geared police force who took them in police patrols even without warrant or initial charges to address.
“They were not informed of any charges when they were accosted. What a way to commemorate pride in the Philippines,” says Cristina Palabay, secretary-general of human rights alliance, Karapatan. This fueled a riot in social media through the use of #FreePride20 to express dismay and anger at the unlawful arrest of the police. This was also followed by #SulongWagPatinag, #TayoAngLunas, #AchibDisBill, and #TulongHindiKulong to add more context and noise about the controversial Pride this year.
Cheekily, “With great power comes great responsibility”. Influence is power, and to harness a lot of it entails that people believe in your ideals, morals, and values. But as soon as one makes a critical mistake, social media can be very unforgiving in dragging you down.
There was a time in social media when everyday, an artist gets cancelled. Lana del Rey, for one, received backlash over her statement on being accused of glamorizing abuse and a question on the culture in music. She proceeded by naming seven women with six of them as people of color who had success for their songs about sex, cheating, and more while baring their skins. This didn’t resonate for a lot of music fans who saw it as a white woman rant on social media. There’s also Doja Cat’s participation on racist chat rooms and usage of racist language on a song targeted for victims of police brutality. Jimmy Fallon was also cancelled for his use of blackface in comedy.
Terrace House’s Hana Kimura died of suicide this year because of cyberbullying. Its highly-successful show had to cancel and make necessary actions and advocacies to topple cyberbullying. This speaks a lot about cancelling the Cancel Culture of dragging the artists for their mistakes to the point of crushing their mental health and existence.