Social media is often portrayed as a toxic environment full of lies & fake news, & frankly, it’s a reputation well-earned. However, it also has the power to reach millions of people across the globe, & when you have a message that needs to be heard, it is a useful tool.
A lot of my social media content focuses on ableism, contains a colourful array of language that would make a marine jealous, & for some strange reason over 10,000 people think it’s worth following. However, compared to the juggernauts of Twitter I cause only the most miniscule of ripples.
That was until an unassuming Monday morning at the start of February, when I was trundling along into the office & had an idea. As I was waiting for my computer to switch on, I crafted a handful of tweets all using the hashtag #AbleismInFourWords.
Very soon tweets using my hashtag began to appear on my feed.
By the end of the working day, quite unbelievably, #AbleismInFourWords was somehow trending in fifth place for the entire UK, just behind Brexit which had only happened a few days prior, & coronavirus as two cases were confirmed in Britain.
As with anything of that magnitude on social media, it also attracted a fair share of trolling. Personal favourites included those using #AbleismInFourWords to patronisingly explain why talking to us as in a slow, condescending tone while gesticulating wildly was not ableist at all, which if anything only served to prove my point. There were several accusations of being an easily-offended snowflake from people who found my hashtag offensive. Usually I have very little time & patience for trolls, often blocking & reporting them before they can continue, but this time I decided to be the bigger person. So I posted this:
It seems that #AbleismInFourWords has had quite an impact on the disabled community, as I received many messages & tags commending me for what was really nothing more than a spur-of-the-moment idea. It was quick, catchy, & could be applied to an array of scenarios both funny & serious; there was really nothing more to it.
Social media, for all its numerous short-comings and faults, is not always the evil we make it out to be. Sometimes, a tiny spark of inspiration is all that’s needed to create a positive trend that reaches out to many, many people, spreading humour & inspiring people across the globe.