My Culture/Teen Culture #Hashtags for Change by Dillon Duke I am a part of the millennial generation. Yes, the avocado toast-loving, Twitter-scrolling, Disney Plus-watching generation. While there are several things that my cohort has brought into the world that are of debatable usefulness (looking at you, fidget spinners,) something great that has occurred during our lifetime is the premiere of online movements. These movements, usually being shared by hashtags on social media sites, harness the accessibility and freedom of the internet to its advantage. Stories and information that would not make mainstream news or be common knowledge become national headlines if a hashtag gets big enough. Not every hashtag is one of cultural importance or one of moral quality for that matter, but this blog is meant to highlight a few that are bringing change to a world that desperately needs it. While we cannot go on a mission trip every day, our access to information, and the ability to spread that information, can be incredibly useful in living our faith in this day and age. As Christians, we need to acknowledge that there are several issues worth addressing in our world today. While we rarely see change happen overnight, through these movements, small steps can be made towards eventual solutions. What follows are a few movements worth researching and perhaps being a part of yourself. Each of these hashtags helps bring a change to society in their own unique way in an effort to protect the integrity of either people or the planet. Fight the New Drug — #ftnd, #pornkillslove Fight the New Drug establishes itself as a “non-religious, and non-legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects using only science, facts, and personal accounts.” Its website offers several scientific articles and personal testimonies to help people recognize the potential harm of porn as well as helping those who wish to quit through their own program, Fortify. FTND is primarily focused on awareness since pornography addiction is a relatively new topic, so their website is where you’ll find several ways to make the topic less uncomfortable for you, as well as the information needed to have an educated conversation about pornography effects. The Ocean Cleanup — #theoceancleanup In a world full of environmental movements, The Ocean Cleanup is one that particularly stands out with its story. Started by the then 18-year-old Boyan Slat in 2013, the organization is focused entirely on cleaning and removing plastic from the ocean. Its innovations and solutions to the growing problem are just as new as the company itself, with inventions like net systems in the ocean to corral plastic and the Interceptor, which picks up plastic from rivers before it ever reaches larger bodies of water. In light of what Pope Francis has called us into in his encyclical, Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home, work like this is deeply important in order to reflect good stewardship and care for the gift of God’s creation. If you want to know more about how these tools work, what the organization has in store for the future, or just want to donate, visit their website for more information. The Arbor Day Foundation — #TeamTrees While we’re talking about environmental issues, let’s talk about trees! The Arbor Day Foundation is the largest non-profit, tree-planting organization that has found immense success and growth from its #TeamTrees initiative. In a large collaboration with YouTuber Mr.Beast, #TeamTrees has planted over 21 million trees. For every dollar that you donate, the organization promises to plant one tree. While the number of trees already donated is astronomically high right now, there is no harm in having more trees. Tree planting might not be as news-worthy or socially-engaging as some other problems listed on this blog, but it is still important to care for the planet and help solve some of the issues that our economic expansion has created for the world. Stomp Out Bullying — #changetheculture To me, most bullying organizations come across as somewhat disconnected to what current students go through. Stomp Out Bullying though, which is focused on making chat lines available for all those who want a person to talk to, stands out. Not only is that type of interaction and communication key, but it is all current. It covers topics like sexual harassment, cyberbullying, and provides resources for parents/teachers too. Often times as a teen (and as an adult too), I felt like what I was doing was never making an impact on the larger world. While I volunteered when I could, it can feel like everything we do is minuscule compared to all the issues the world has. As frustrating as this might be, we must not lose hope in our ability to make a difference or the effects that these types of movements can have. Mother Teresa said, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” Whatever you can give, whether it be money, time or sharing these hashtags, is one small drop that is needed for a tide of change to crash.