A few weeks ago I had a funny conversation at work. We have some great volunteers who help out in the church office with various tasks. One of them was trying to figure out what a hashtag was. Her grand kids had been talking about them and we had a quick conversation. My final part of the explanation was how people use them to be sarcastic online. Her reply?
“Well I am pretty sarcastic…guess I need to start hashtagging.”
I think the word hashtag is ubiquitous for 2013. It probably hit it’s peak of cultural fascination with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake’s video. What began as a simple hack for twitter has turned into one of the major developments in human communication. Just incase you are still trying to figure out what people actually use hashtags for here are a few uses (from most functional to…well, the fun ones).
- Categorization of topics or current events (#superbowl)
- linking conversations to a conference or web event (#passion2014)
- Internet groups or twitter chats (like #emptyshelf on instagram)
- Snarky or sarcastic humor
People also use them to describe otherwise emotions in a previously emotionless world. Hashtags give us the ability to make the digital world non-verbal.
Living the #Hashtag Life
Here’s the deal. Hashtags give us a way to sort life. We can easily associate ourselves with things online using hashtags. They are a great way to instantly belong to a conversation…without even being introduced. I take place in a few online chats and just using the group chat hashtag instantly throws me into a conversation with people I have never met before. I have had conversations with some pretty awesome folks because of them! And I didn’t have to be invited. Hashtags allow us to place ourselves, to instantly belong into a group of people. No one has to approve us.
Hashtags also can quickly lead us into other places. We might get a little bit to snarky. Just like my dad used to tell me, “No one likes to bring a negative person on a road trip”, if we get a little to much attitude with our hashtags we can gain a reputation we might not want to keep. We can easily begin to make fun of people and things in a pretty destructive way just to gain a few laughs. It might be clever…but is it holy?
Here is an interesting thought.
If you had to identify three hashtags with who you want people to see you as, three quick ways to honestly describe yourself, what would they be?
To look at the other side of the coin…what three hashtags could those closest to us use to describe us?
Or even further, what three hashtags could those who we have hurt or damaged throw out?
We all want to have values and skills. We all want to be known for something. In our inner core, we want to be approved and part of the group. We want our words to matter. We simply want to belong.
What hashtag honestly describes you the most? Would you want it to be trending?