Flavor of the Week: Hashtags


I am the worst because I will #harshly judge you for using hashtags seriously in an Instagram post, but will use hashtags for #effect all of the time.

Over the last five years (or whatever) in social media history, hashtagging has gotten completely lost in translation. And what started out as a seemingly intelligent way to connect your words and thoughts on #feminism, #SuperBowl, #OITNB, #HIMYM, and #HDP — jk lol, those are my initials — through bandwidth and such has completely evolved into something else.

A hashtag is a form of punctuation. It’s that hint of irony. Actually, it’s a tone. When I use a hashtag to be funny, and not because I’m trying to get something trending on Twitter, I do it because I’m speaking that word in a very particular voice in my head. And when other people use hashtags that are clearly for shits and giggles, I read their words in that tone, too. Then again, as with most things I attempt, there’s a great chance I’m completely misinterpreting and other people are not using a hashtag as a form of punctuation/intonation. Everyone could just be #serially #terrible #hashtaggers. I could be the only one who uses the hashtag voice, or my hashtag voice could be super different from everyone else’s, and that would induce an awful lot of self-pity.

The hashtag is versatile. It spreads across almost every platform of social media. So while something like Vine might get sucked into the embers of fiery app-hell, the language that hashtagging has become will live like a cat with nine lives. I don’t really see hashtagging going away for a while, which is kind of weird considering I don’t even use it for what it really is. How a networking tool can evolve into Insta-caption-satire bewilders me. Like, who thought of that change? Where did that come from? And if you’re from Africa, why are you white?

A few weeks ago, my youngest brother was reading aloud a serial code for me, as my ancient eyes are permanently damaged from my homeopathic mother neglecting my  right eye’s astigmatism for the last twelve plus years. She didn’t believe in glasses (read: she didn’t believe in paying for glasses). So anyway…my brother was reading the letter/number/symbol combination, and in the midst of it all, says the word “hashtag.”

Like, I literally mean: “A…4…Z…C…hashtag…8…3.”

It took me less than a split second to realize what he really meant — the ‘pound’ key — but I still found it funny. Hashtags are actually everything. And that’s not even me being an overdramatic girl who uses words in their un-literal meaning.

As a writer, though, I don’t really mind. I find punctuation rather exciting.