Sunday, September 11, 2011

Social Media No-No's: The Hashtag

Confession time. Over the past few months, before finally starting STNA classes and having at least a semi-job, I spent way too much time on the internet. Confession time again. I still spend too much time on the internet.  And while we’re at the confessing, my smartphone addiction is partially to blame for this. These addictions together lead me to see a variety of things on a plethora of mediums, namely Facebook and Twitter, that make my head want to implode.  Those who know me already know of my slight painful obsession with correct speech and grammar, but I felt, perhaps out of my insane boredom and lack of desire to see any additional pictures of pressure sores or correct peri care guidelines*, I felt as though some fun tips should be thrown out there for those of you at home who insist on using a social medium. Help me to help you. There are some things that people do that make me want to punch a small, furry creature. And that’s not fair to the creature.  I originally had intended on this to be a top 5 list, with brief explanations for each. But then I got kind of carried away with the annoyance that is “The Hashtag” (see below) and decided that this will end up being in series format. This being said, if you have a particular internet pet peeve, please don’t hesitate to leave it in the comments. It may be one of those that I have in mind, or may remind me of an internal monologue rant in times past that will spark my written cynicism.

*EXTRA FUN!  If you’re one of those out there not knowing this definition, take a quick detour to Google search. After you’re done gouging your eyes out, remember that I’m actually paying to learn these things. Willingly. I’m sane. Promise.

The Hashtag

The hashtag (otherwise known as the pound key or number sign, #) rose to power through the fabulous world that is Twitter as a way for likeminded people…actually, even violently oppositionally minded people, to connect and discuss a single topic. For example, well-known trending topics that come to mind include #RoyalWedding, #JapanEarthquake, or even descending into incredibly entertaining memes such as #WhatIThinkAretheLastLinesInBooksIHaveNotRead or #ReplaceWordsInMovieTitlesWithBacon.

The hashtag also proved to be useful by youth leaders and officials throughout respective religious movements. A recent example of this in my own life would have been Youth Congress, or should I say #NAYC11. For purposes such as these, the hashtag has proved to be a unifying and handy tool.

After a while, people decided that, in addition to being a helpful connector, adding a simple “#” to their tweets could give it that extra punch of snark, cynicism, or other humor device. I will admit to using the pound key for these dark purposes on a number of occasions. It’s just so tempting and there are so many events in a conservative educational setting that simply need to be expressed as a #BrainImplosion.  

Then, the cutesy girls got ahold of the secret snark weapon and violated the sacredness thereof. Girls with significant others everywhere began to remark that they #LoveMyBF or #Hearts or #Loves or #HesTheBest or [continue until urge to vomit arises]. But it didn’t stop there. Cliché and painful terms filtered their way into the hashtag community as well. Things like #Besties and other things intended to convey just how much like-super-totally-awesome-funzy time was being had with one’s #GalPals and inadvertently followed up with a string of mathematical values equating to less than three and a companionship of colons and parentheses. <3 <3 <3 :) :) :)

Once the cutesy girls got ahold of the hashtag, the world cringed but presumed that the worst was done. The hashtag had been defiled, but we could sleep well knowing that at least in its homeland of Twitter, it still carried out a valiant and meaningful purpose, connecting us in conversation at the click of a #. And then the unthinkable happened.

Perhaps it was the ability to link one’s Facebook statuses and Twitter feed together through programs such as TweetDeck or Selective Tweets, but somewhere along the line, someone in the Facebook community got ahold of the hashtag. Even worse, they were distracted, fascinated by, and drawn to it like a small rodent to a shiny object. It was all over from there. The hashtag had infiltrated Facebook like an invasive species that Park Rangers always post warning posters about and similarly spread like the emerald ash borer amongst Ohio’s wildlife. It was being used willy-nilly and without purpose, rhyme, or reason. It was everywhere. Punctuation in the middle of hashtagged thoughts showed up. Complete sentences that could easily have just been written out. And the VagueBooking. Oh, the horrors of material that it provided for VagueBookers*.

*To be defined at a later date

And so marks the descent of the hashtag. Used, abused, and curled up in the fetal position, crying about the mess that its life has been reduced to. So tonight, my brethren, I implore you:

Let’s save the hashtag. Let’s incorporate these handy rules into our everyday life.

1. )Punctuation does not belong in a hashtag. Twitter won’t even recognize a ‘, /, or :, so neither should you. Hashtags are meant to be abbreviated statements or snarky run-ons. They’re not the place for punctuation.

2.) Same goes for spaces. If you add “#can’t wait for the weekend” to the end of your Facebook status, basically, all you’ve done is told me that you can’t wait for the weekend, and also your finger slipped and pressed the pound key because that makes no sense. That’s not a hashtag, that’s a sentence. Treat it that way.

3.) You can either have hearts and smileys or you can have cutesy hashtags. Either one will make me resent you. Both will make me want to junk punch you.

By following these three simple steps, it is possible to save the hashtag. Only you can prevent symbolic character depression. Let’s work together.


MotherT said...

Oh my, the sarcasm is running deep. #beckysonarant :-)

Tiff said...

I love using hashtags. I won't stop. You can't make me. I hate vaguebooking though. Do post a rant about vaguebooking and I will fill the comments section with highfives. #hugepetpeeve