The night i first met Brian Simpson, he was talking to Christina Coster about how Disney had taken the hashtag #GFY on Twitter to represent their character Goofy. He felt that #GFY should represent “Go Fuck Yourself,” a popular colloquialism with the initials that were the same as the representation that Disney had taken on Twitter for their character.
Twitter is not the same as domain names, trademarks, or other singular representations that can be controlled by a large company with a lot of money. A hashtag is merely an easily identifiable search word that connects to an overall zeitgeist that users of the micro messaging service use to connect their tweets to other users on the same topic. And so, a movement was born to take it back.
I told Brian that if he didn’t like it, that all we had to do is begin to use it in the context that we wanted to and if we could get enough people to do it, then it could return to what we saw as the “proper context.” If one of our friends was pissing us off, we told them to #GFY. If a friend told a joke at our expense, #GFY. If we were happy to see one of our friends online, #GFY. We muddled the usage to the point where it was no longer property of the Disney Corporation, but it belonged to the people and would be used in the way we saw fit.
There is a similar situation occurring now on the site I am the webmaster for, RonFez.Net. A vocal minority have essentially taken the messageboard and used it to push their personal agendas. The site has become a place of negativity surrounding a small handful of people who shout louder and support each other in their inflated egos, hypocrisy, belly aching, and overall negative posting styles have taken the messageboard hostage. Rather than dealing with these abrasive individuals, the more thoughtful individuals have chosen to remove themselves from the website. Although those individuals who have become “undesirable” have not broken the site’s rules, even if they do and they were removed from the site, it would leave a vacuum that would be filled by the few supporters the vocal minority have instead of the thoughtful conversation that filled the site previously.
In the story “Dream of a Thousand Cats,” which was part of the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman, a cat travels the world trying to convince other cats to dream of a world where they are the dominant species, rather than man. If this cat can get a mere thousand cats to dream it and believe it, the cats could supplant human beings, and we would be their house pets. The same is true of social media. It doesn’t take thousands of people, it doesn’t even take hundreds. It just takes enough people to want a change, who are not only willing to stand up and say they want change, but be willing to dream it, to do it.
If you don’t like the way something is on the internet, stand up. Say it, do it, get others to believe in your cause and you can and will enact change. You just have to want it and be willing to follow the dream of change.