August 26, 2015 5:42 pm
Hashtag: (#), keyword .
Within today’s society, to say that the hashtag in online and offline conversation has exploded in mainstream usage is an understatement. In this tech-savvy contemporary age, its association with linguistic creativity, oversharing and attention-grabbing tactics have generated a new manner in which we share information about ourselves and the way we function in our surroundings.
Although history of the hashtag runs deep (since Ancient Rome in fact), the social media and blogging use for this tool has only grown in popularity since 2008. Why does the hashtag have so much power despite being a basic, re-adopted symbol? The answer is simple: The hashtag has revolutionized the way we interact with one another. Its communicative purposes are numerous, among some being business, marketing, political and academic. The most basic use however, is the sharing of ordinary daily activities in a modern form of linguistic narration with an extension of paralanguaging (non-verbal cues to express meaning) into textual form. It is a divided argument among linguists, some claiming a “sophisticated new technique”, while others like Sam Biddle refer to it as a “linguistic tumour, ruining the English language”. As it has made such an impact to the English language, it was included in the Oxford Dictionary in 2014, where many newly-coined words have also been added.
Hashtags are both a symbol and practical use of finding, sharing and linking similar interests among users, developing a multi-layered, inter-connected community. This increased even more so with the “trending” and “trending topics” features. Although it was initially limited to Twitter, it was quickly realized that it should be a regular fixture applicable across other social media applications, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr and so on. It intertwines occurrences fueled by emotion, those which make us happy, angry, and irritable and many more. The descriptions are endless and so are our purposes for using them.
In short, hashtags filter the topic you mention in your post and daily conversations. Even though they may use phrases and insert terms you would generally never think of using, they change the way we construct language, ignoring the grammatical rules which have been imposed since day one in academics. Nowadays, the lack of punctuation, word spaces and even incorrect spelling and syntax has become the norm when preceded by the hashtag symbol. The colloquial designs have been at one of their most creative (or laziest) turns, especially with some examples like: #shutupandtakemymoney #fomo #yolo #rightinthefeels #tbt
So just remember, the next time you post a pic of your misspelled Starbucks cup followed by your hashtags, the amount of details you purposely and intentionally share are endless in what you choose to convey.
Therefore, the hashtag: convenience or linguistic burden? You decide!
The Internet is a lawless land, and the language it uses to convey that is experimental and ever-changing (see the Mashable article).
Guide to using hashtags effectively:
Written by Margarita Reyes
Communication Trainee at TermCoord
Student at University of Luxembourg
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