The first time I saw a hashtag, over a decade and a half ago, I was proofreading for a friend who had written a pop culture piece about its arrival. To this day, I am not sure she used it correctly, but there she was, bravely venturing into the latest social media marker.
The next time I saw the online categorization tool was shortly after that, when I attended an educator’s conference where we were encouraged to use a few different hashtags supplied by the organizers to see if we would trend, and to allow us to follow one another and link topics of interest. Full disclosure: I didn’t hashtag, as I thought it was a bit too #trendy for me, and perhaps even a passing fad.
And with some of the deadly sessions at the conference, I would more likely have used #boring or #notinterested. And that would have been wrong, because hashtags are not supposed to be about feelings or what you are doing, even though to this day I use them this way.
Since that time, I have tried to use hashtags with discretion, making sure I stay current but not getting too #crazy. It drives me nuts to get a text or see a post which is more hashtag than content. Here’s a gem from a university I follow, from just this week: “It’s #spring on #campus #flipflopweather #tulipsblooming #longerdays #beautifulsunsets #allthecolors”
If I had hash tagged about spring in college, it more likely would have said #thinkingaboutskippingclass, #turningassignmentinlate, or #whendowegraduate? And it would have been done on a typewriter. Just saying.
I am also afraid of creating a hashtag controversy like the one that arose with Margaret Thatcher and Cher. The hashtag #nowthatchersdead was trending when the Prime Minister passed away, but not out of love for the leader. Cher’s fans thought they had lost their diva and took to social media. The last thing I need is to create an international incident. I am too #busy to manage the fallout.
Sometimes I cannot figure out why a hashtag is paired with the advertisement or content it is with. This week there was an ice cream ad (which in my always hungry world needed no hashtag to grab my attention anyway) that said #groundbreaking. I mean I love me some pralines and cream, but I am hard pressed to call it groundbreaking. #Dietbreaking or #calorieladen perhaps, but #groundbreaking hardly.
I read a meme that says, “Friends don’t let friends use too many hashtags.” In my case, it’s daughters who don’t let me. In a recent post, I used #werk as a funny twist on the word work to compliment my daughter’s efforts in music and at school, and said daughter about had a coronary.
“Do you know what werk means?” she texted me, because most of our important conversations are held that way #sarcasm.
“Yes, it is a hip twist on the word work,” I texted back, not admitting to having looked it up and finding out it could also be an Ethiopian gold coin.
“It means to hit on somebody. So are you saying I was working hard or hitting on somebody?”
Dang. That urban dictionary thing. Before I could reply, she texted “#nobody #cares #about
#hashtags #anyway”. But I think her hash tag filled text shows she actually does. Wouldn’t that be #irony?
I wish we could trademark hashtags. I would have grabbed up #tired, #annoyed, #hangry, and #smart to start, as they are all my best #emotions and #qualities in descending order, and then as time and finances allowed, added #fatandsassy and #classycolumnist.
I would have also grabbed up #werk just to annoy the kid, #thatsjustdumb so I had a response for most politicians, and #shutup for all the armchair quarterbacks at high school football games.
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