Expanding on the notion of hashtags as more than the diffusion of information, but rather a narrative of individualised experiences and reactions. Thus digital activism is relevant to the narrative agency that result from hashtags. Yang argues that similar to literature, social change follows a narrative structure. Narrative agency is “invented” and invention with the producers and rhetors restricted to some capacity, as a result these individuals construct new ways of expression. Hashtag activism is a reflection of these developments.
The relationship between social change and narration can be illustrated through how #BlackLivesMatter originated. Through the use of a Facebook post and hashtag individuals have invented a narrative in which has flourished through reactions to that hashtag. This has created the narrative for the social movement that we are witnessing.
Social movements embedded in the digital sphere have been associated with Slacktivism, with social touchpoints allowing individuals to result in gratification without practical effort. However there are two issues with this. The first being that individuals or organisations who receive interactions from Slacktivists may continue their cause through the idea that others support them. Additionally through the hashtag we have the capacity to influence opinions without the need for physical space or institutional control.
The reason that digital movements have positive agency is through the power of narration. This is due to the hashtag reducing the process of noise, allowing individuals to interact with another through this shared construct and the capacity for routine. For such hashtags to create social change they rely heavily on associated rhetoric in the narrative. Producing similar call to actions to what we see of Facebook in terms of “‘tag’ your friend you would do this with.” This creates a sensation of personalisation and contribution to the narrative.