Why hashtags are so powerful

Laura Fitton
Laura Fitton

Last night after a day of watching the Ray Rice video all over TV and the Web, a new set of hashtags appeared: #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft. They were used to share stories of abuse and respond to the question so many people asked about why anyone would tolerate that treatment.

After showing video of Rice, a former Ravens star, assaulting his then-fiancée in an elevator in Atlantic City, “Fox & Friends” host Brian Kilmeade actually joked: “I think the message is, take the stairs.” And they wonder why Rice’s fiancée, Janay Palmer, stayed in the abusive relationship and then married him within a month of the terrible incident.

Many women were quick to react on Twitter. The site erupted with women sharing upsetting admissions of why they stayed in abusive relationship and why and how they left them using the #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft hashtags.

Laura Fitton, author of Twitter for Dummies and inbound marketing evangelist at HubSpot, was quick to connect with the women:

I asked Laura to give us some perspective on how hashtags are used on social media, and specifically on Twitter to ignite a conversation.

She put it this way: “What hashtags really do is create an immediate, globally accessible, public space. That’s why they’re so insanely powerful. Suddenly a place exists for group expression, sharing and discussion, and when a hashtag takes off, attention to what is going on in that space can become global in a matter of hours or even minutes.”

The hashtags are still alive and will be active for the next few days most likely.  Despite all the interest in the new Apple product launch washing across social media like a flood, there are a lot of women on Twitter who have their attention elsewhere and want to share the life-changing events they care about most.

Halley Suitt Tucker is an author, entrepreneur, TechStars alum, and two-time successful Kickstarter campaigner. She lives in Arlington.
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