Hash-tagging began eleven years ago when Chris Messina, a SanFran techie and Google developer, tried to find a way to bring focus to topics and connect like-minded individuals through social media. Though he received some initial pushback from friends, his idea caught on -- like “#Wildfire,” right?
Like any good idea shared with the masses, it’s led to “hashtag overuse and hashtag abuse.” While originally used to highlight topics and provide a virtual “town square” where like-minded people could gather, hashtags morphed into a trendy practice and were soon overused by enthusiastic users and turned into a running gag by cynics and satirists.
Hashtags have something in common with euphemisms or verbal evasiveness when we’re trying to communicate a difficult message. In fact, the practice of beating around the bush actually serves an important purpose – it helps ease awkward situations (think along the lines of “#LeftAtTheAltar,” for a stood-up bride) and it can also let people get away with things they normally couldn’t. There are a lot of “relationship hashtag” code words. “#Stashed” means your partner is keeping you hidden from some family members or friends. “#Freckled” means your summer love’s faded away just like the freckles on your nose.
While the use of hashtags may be viewed as a little silly by some, or the coolest thing since Nintendo by others, they are definitely a part of our linguistic heritage.
Experts say three hashtags in a post is the limit. So I’ll just sign off:
#SuzanneDegges, #Perspectives, #LifeIsGood