Hashtag 'By 23'

Hashtag 'By 23'

Michael Lawrence

Thursday, September 24, 2020

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On September 18, 2020 Jamaican Twitter went into a frenzy as it tackled comments made by political commentator Kevin O'Brien Chang. This led to several youth and youth affiliates tweeting about their achievements with the hashtag by 23 (#By23). This trended to number one in the country within hours of the first tweet on Twitter.

“#By23 was birthed out of the discussions around the recent appointment of Jamaica's youngest senator, Gabriella Morris. The movement aimed to encourage online users to share what they had accomplished at that age to highlight the amazing potential and thinking of our young people, who are often underestimated,” said well-recognised digital marketer Joel Nomdarkham, who coined #By23 trend. This has been supported by many influencers such as Yendi Phillipps, who highlighted that by 23, she had obtained a bachelor's and master's degree, won Miss Jamaica World 2007, represented Jamaica on an international platform, and became an international model amongst other achievements.

Attorney-at-law and human rights advocate Christopher Harper also took to social media to share that by 23 he was managing a non-governmental organisation, was a member of numerous committees focusing on issues of national importance, and had made many submissions before Parliament on matters concerning law reform. This was all while completing his final year at Norman Manley Law School.

Opposition Senator Gabriela Morris also shared, “#By23 I would've served as a student leader at the Caribbean's leading university, The UWI [University of the West Indies], completed my bachelor's and started my masters in communication for social and behavioural change. Also, I am serving the people of Jamaica as an appointed senator.”

In the mix of youth celebrating their individual achievements, there were some who thought that the trend was “triggering”; for not every 23-year-old had numerous accolades. Others took to social media to share that they battled with depression as they compared their achievements to their peers.

Nomdarkham shared that, “One of the common themes across the #By23 hashtag today, was how many folks are battling with depression and their mental well-being. Major shout out to those who shared that side. I hope we can also bring that topic to the forefront and learn more + craft ways to offer support.”

In an interview with Nationwide News Chang criticised Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips on the appointment of 23-year-old Gabriela Morris to the Senate. “Now what in the world is a university student doing in the Senate. Being a student shows that you still have a lot to learn…” was the comment made by Chang.

Senator Morris will serve as the youngest to ever be appointed to the Upper House and we expected her to serve Jamaica well.


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