The Pussyhat Effect: social media’s evolving impact on politics

Posted on January 20, 2017

If you listen to ‘accepted’ wisdom, Generation Z are renowned for being uninterested and uninvolved in politics. That’s increasingly looking like a pretty antiquated view.

Last year saw a ginormous upward surge in young people’s involvement in current affairs, via those little screens that have become extensions of our beings and vehicles of our social and political position.

Social media’s impact is evolving and putting an end to indifferent ‘couch potato politics’. The Women’s March is a perfect demonstration of just how easily viral events can blossom and boom over a matter of hours and days, transforming a small group of angry protesters into a global moral solidarity movement hundreds of thousands strong.

Social media gets a ton of stick. People are always complaining about the damaging psychological effects of ‘snapshot’ views of other peoples’ lives, and the way it cuts people off from the people around them.

Although this can certainly be true – speaking from experience of wasting hours trawling through luxury holiday Instagram accounts from the confines of my duvet – social media can also be an absolutely vital resource for spreading awareness and creating real, influential movements.

These platforms have a near infinite reach, what started as a Facebook event for a Women’s March on Washington, a solidarity movement defending women’s and human rights and equality against divisive politics, has spiraled into marches, talks and rallies all over the world, and us Londoners can take part in a 17,000 strong march from 12pm this Saturday 21st Jan.

The ‘Pussyhat Project’ is an initiative whereby women sew their own pink beanies with cat (or ‘pussy’) ears, which promotes the Women’s March on Washington and protests Trump’s inauguration.

This initiative goes alongside the #dumptrump and #WhyIMarch hashtags and punbelievable banners and signs, which are all ways that show that we can, and should, get involved in politics without being fusty, old, middle-class white men debating drivel in a stuffy boardroom.

Why not use whatever platforms we can to get involved? It’s now so easy to create an online community, find people of similar mindsets, be creative and get our voices heard.

Turn the opinion of social media from a self-centered, egotistical showing-off game into a platform to unite globally and promote real change. After all, if its good enough for Beyoncé, its good enough for me.

@beyonce “Together with Chime for Change, we raise our voices as mothers, as artists, and as activists. As #GlobalCitizens, we can make our voices heard and turn awareness into meaningful action and positive change.”


Words by Kay Hollingsworth

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