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Your Hashtag Isn’t Going to Change the World

#CameronMustGo is not the Arab Spring – it's just a slightly lazier version of a change.org petition
December 10, 2014, 4:00pm

Big DC, laughing at your hashtag (Photo via ​Number 10)​

David Cameron must be absolutely gutted at the state of #CameronMustGo.

"Samantha," he says, Strictly on in the background. He's got his special glasses on to help him see his iPad. "There's a thing on Twitter, here, look." It's trending. It's been trending for days. "Blimmy blimey," he says, a single tear rolling down his big, pink face. He's gone to the shed at the bottom of the Number 10 garden to do some loud, therapeutic woodwork. The Famous Grouse Osborne got for his birthday is taking a hammering. He's thinking: 'Maybe I should – no, David, that's silly. Maybe I… should… resign?'

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Come on, you fucking nerds. David Cameron isn't going to go anywhere because of a hashtag. David Cameron still has the mud under his fingernails from that time he ascended to the premiership back in 2010. He's survived the Rochester by-election and the looming, inside-out balloon face of Nigel Farage. He's survived Clacton and Scotland. You really think some @s and #s are going to get rid of him? I doubt if you asked Cameron to describe the concept of a hashtag he'd be able to give you much more than your weird, racist uncle who works in a slaughterhouse would be able to over Christmas dinner. "It's, ah… well, have you heard of memes?'

Come on.

Fact: #CameronMustGo has been littering up the trending topics on Twitter for 17 days, initially trending on 22nd November, before getting slowly ​picked up by mainstream media outlets essentially because #CameronMustGo proponents did a ​toys-out-the-pram hissyfit and sent sincere emails to every news outlet demanding coverage. Think of it as GamerGate, but for people who write letters to the council about getting bigger recycling bins. But a hashtag isn't a story. "​Describe your penis with a movie title" isn't a front-page headline.

Additional fact: #CameronMustGo was dumped from the trending topics list for the UK yesterday, which lead to everyone who's tweeted the hashtag to cry into their moussaka about a secret Tory conspiracy to Keep Them Down, neatly ignoring the concept of Twitter algorithms syphoning out hashtags that yam on for too long without going anywhere, like #OneDirection or #MarryMeBieber. If you're still tweeting #CameronMustGo then you're essentially one of those Directioners who forgoes meals to tweet Harry Styles the same thing over and over in an effort go get him to follow. That's you, that is.

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Barometer-wise, #CameronMustGo is a pretty good indicator of people being exasperated with David Cameron. That's pretty fair to say. But Twitter isn't the whole story, is it? Your man down the pub isn't on Twitter when he's using a tiny pencil to fill in a betting slip, but he still votes. Your mum isn't on Twitter because she's got the Lakeland catalogue to look through, but she still votes.

While #CameronMustGo might be indicative of a certain public feeling, it's not the whole thing. It's not a grassroots campaign of dissent. It's a pun-making parlour game with a message. It's loud, it's annoying and it's orbiting away from the point. It's Band Aid.

It forms part of this whole curious 2014 trend for making big gestures and loud noises and not really actually doing anything with it. It's the ice bucket challenge for people who tell their kids to call them "Neil" instead of "Dad". A change.org petition for people slightly too lazy to do a change.org petition. If the US is anything to go by, it's not that hard to get people mad enough to actually step outside their house, blockade a bridge, and make a fucking point .

Closer to home, students have been doing it this month, and they've got a face full of tear gas for their troubles – but they don't have to politely email the BBC asking them to cover the story. If you want to make a point, for fuck's sake go out there and make a point. Until then, don't sit around ​getting a lob on about how many "impressions" you've made.

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​@joelgolby

More stuff from VICE: 

​Russell Brand Isn't the Problem with London

​Young People Need to Vote if They Want to Change the UK

​I Took a Very Thorough Look Through British MPs' Twitter Favourites