By Patrick Giroux
April 15, 2013. A day that forever changed the city of Boston, for both good and bad. The Boston Marathon bombings on April 15 sparked fear, nerves, and anxiety as a city loved by millions became under attack and torn with sadness as loss filled people’s hearts.
In the hours following the Boston Marathon Bombing, the words “Boston Strong” blanketed t-shirts, wristbands, and even MBTA busses, and the motto went viral on social media, taking Twitter by storm with the #BostonStrong hashtag being used by millions of users globally.
The motto was originally meant to be part of a t-shirt campaign. It was started by Christopher Dobens and Nicholas Reynolds, two Emerson College students who sought to “unify Boston after the horrific events,” according to the Boston Globe. The two students created the t-shirt which dawned blue and yellow, which also matched colors of the Boston Marathon.
The shirts and motto were eventually trademarked and patented, to ensure companies who sold products with the motto would donate part of the proceeds to the Boston One Fund.
Boston Strong means much more than a t-shirt or social media hashtag. Catherine Thomas, a souvenir shop manager at Quincy Market said Thomas said.
Indeed others think the same as Thomas, and according to this Twitter poll, 67% of respondents said when they hear #BostonStrong, they think of the support demonstrated to others instead of thinking about the horrific acts committed by the Boston Marathon bombers.
Although the #BostonStrong social media campaign and t-shirt sales have generated support for the cause and courage for the city to move on, it has come with some criticism. In fact, some even call it “overboard,” according to this NPR article.
According to a Twitter poll, 50% of respondents think #BostonStrong is overused on social media and merchandise, while the other 50% disagree, and think the motto continues to live on to this day. With this split number, does it prove that it is time for the city of Boston and beyond to move on from using #BostonStrong, or should we continue to use it to remember the lives lost, and for the courageous city that endured so much.
Tovia Smith from NPR states the people who purchase the products are often tourists, many looking for the best deals around. When they walk into a souvenir shop and see hundreds of Boston Strong shirts, mugs, and even mints, they have no idea what products are actually licensed by the One Fund, and which are “knock-offs,” causing unsettling feelings in the hearts of those who avidly support the organization. Not to mention the cheap price tags on the unofficial products, allowing stores to generate the funds, instead of the One Fund.
Has Boston Strong become too much of a viral craze that has gone out of control? Some argue, while others argue motto itself upholds support, and advocacy for the horrific day, and the lives impacted as a result. And so, Boston is still Strong, and continues to pour support and care for those affected by the senseless acts.