Hash(tag)ing Out the Pros & Cons of Web 2.0

The concept we’ve discussed in class called “Web 2.0,” drives a lot of what we know to be the internet today. When we look closer at what the theory really means, we can see connections between the concept and current trends in media, as well as in the way we engage online with one another. If we step back from the cacophony of information found on our various digital platforms, and look critically at the way we’ve shaped social media interaction, we can gain some insight about the technology that we’re consuming through new mediums everyday.

The internet’s openness has had some significant effects on the way we engage. One thing on which we all can agree, is that this past election cycle, and the social media climate surrounding it, created some significant rifts in our society. Families and friendships were divided over candidates and issues, and those divisions oftentimes were on full display in the comments section of major social networking sites.  The revolution of the internet has allowed us to not only voice our opinions with ease, but it gives us access to large audiences, creating a forum for debate that just increases with the number of sites that we use to connect with one another. In the reading by Alice Marwick, the term “citizen journalism” is described as a result of the new “user-generated content” revolution of the Web 2.0 era. The proliferation of blogs, Twitter, and other sites that allow users to inundate the web with their thoughts have brought us to where we are today: an age where the first thing we think of to solve a problem is getting as many people involved on social media as possible. The best way to do that? A hashtag.




A perfect example of the power that Web 2.0 can have is in the #NoBanNoWall hashtag  campaign that social media has taken up in response to executive actions by the new president. People immediately took to online platforms to share messages of support for those affected, and criticism of the effects being seen as a result of the ban.



This new culture of the hashtag that we’ve created for ourselves provides a sort of common area where user-generated content can live and exist in one place. Someone from California can bond with a person feeling similarly just by a hashtag that brings together their content in a single, digital arena. This new ability enhances connectedness to a new degree, because now our content reaches not only our own respective audiences, but it can now move effortlessly across state lines and international borders.

In troubling times where internet users are angry and want to speak out, these hashtags and spaces for commiserating are helpful in the coping process for some people. Stories from children of immigrants have circled the Facebook forums, and in these posts using the hashtag, people can find solace in knowing that there are people out there going through the same thing, and wanting to see the same things they want to see happen.

Despite the benefits of being able traverse large distances using nothing more that the symbol formerly known as ”pound,” there is, of course, the potential for harm from this new development in digital discourse. The “citizen journalism” that we see in this open online space may have its honorable intentions, but in this media climate, the most important issues we’re facing are the propagation of false information and the strengthening of the echo chamber that our newsfeeds create. The personal blogs and websites with alternative facts that are promoted as fact are a grim downside to the openness of the internet, and the access that all people have to it. People are taking advantage of the internet’s democracy, and we have to start thinking about ways that we can combat that without hindering the positives of the connectedness we experience.


I’m in no way an advocate for a censoring of the internet and a reversal of the openness that we see with the Web 2.0 revolution discussed in class. I believe that beautiful, thoughtful and creative things come from the global community we’ve created with online media channels. I do, however, think that our online spaces have to deal with the problems that these “citizen journalists” create. Whether those problems are dealt with by the masses or the platforms themselves, is something that we’ll have to figure out before Web 3.0 hits the web.



Works Cited:

Marwick, Alice Emily. Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity, and Branding in the Social Media Age. New Haven: Yale UP, 2013. Print.








7 thoughts on “Hash(tag)ing Out the Pros & Cons of Web 2.0

  1. I think this blog post highlights a very interesting function of social media that most of us use each day without realizing the impact we are making on the social media community at large. When we use a hashtag, it is typically to summarize the content of a post, almost as a wrap-up. Beyond this function, hashtags bring communities of like-minded people together and form smaller communities in the social media world. I immediately thought of the viral blue or gold dress image and how depending on which hashtag you used, you were joining a global “team”. A hashtag truly is more than just a pound sign; it has such rich meaning and relatable context behind it.


  2. Super interesting to think about this, especially given all that has happened in the last few weeks. I definitely agree that the openness provided by “Web 2.0” is a wonderful thing in its way of connection, but that we need to keep the negatives of citizen journalism in mind when we go about looking for information. We need to start emphasizing the need for increased media literacy.


  3. I really enjoyed your in-depth look at the functions of the hashtag. What started out as a simple way to see what people are talking about has become such a natural concept in our society. Hashtags, in their own way, have become like mini-blogs. People can have free and open discussion about a topic and are able to have a collected source where this information is coming from. The hashtag creates these small communities of thought and ideas that can be both beneficial and harmful. This election season is definitely an example of the negatives that can come out of them, but I would say the #BellLetsTalk campaign that benefits mental health is a positive. Every tweet or retweet using this hashtag donated 5 cents to foundation focused on helping people with mental health. In this way hashtags can help groups of people and inspire discussion at the same time.


  4. At first I did not appreciate the hashtag phenomenon because I thought people were using it as an excuse to call themselves “activists” without actually doing anything. However, with the recent events surrounding Trump’s immigration ban and those protesting using the #NoWallNoBan tag, I’m coming to see it in a different light. I believe that those hashtags act as a spotlight for important issues going on in the world and by searching one hashtag you’ll get to see an archive of how everyone is responding to it, an aspect that I definitely think is positive.


  5. Great post, I think it’s a really interesting idea to think of the hashtag as the community, not the social media site its on. In early web, before Web 2.0, the communities people joined were a lot smaller and usually had a common topic holding them together (a fansite for a show, a video game, etc). On these sites people would usually share similar mindsets (though of course there would still be some arguing, some things never change). With how large and diverse social media is in 2017, the hashtag is a great way to make massive sites like twitter feel a bit smaller, a bit more personal.


  6. I really enjoyed reading this blog post. What was interesting is that I never really noticed how much we relied on hashtags and how hashtags honestly keep us well connected. I agree with what you said about how you can use a hashtag and someone in California could be feeling the same way and that ultimately sparks up conversation. To make this personal, I use the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter all the time via social media and the response that I get is amazing. Even speaking off the election and the inauguration, I used the hashtag #NotMyPresident in response to Donald Trump taking presidency. Seeing how many people felt the same was interesting. I really think hashtags are useful – but sometimes you don’t always get a positive response from others.


  7. This is an excellent, comprehensive blog post. Especially considering the political climate that we are now traversing, hashtags can bring together marginalized people in a way that has never been available before. The conflict between First Amendment rights and the Internet is becoming a more tangible issue as hate speech pervades every social media platform.

    A positive hashtag outcome recently resulted from The Women’s March, that was centered in DC, but expanded across the nation. #MybodyMychoice reveals a myriad of uplifting chants, signs, and messages relating to the topic of women’s reproductive rights. It’s amazing to see so much national support within the confines of a cellphone, especially when the news can paralyze us with fear.


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