Enough with the Hashtags, Already!

This is a rant on something minor inspired by something major.  Without getting too personal or political, I have a vested interest in the government shutdown, so I’m keeping a closer eye than usual on the news these days.  Not that I don’t pay attention to world events at other times, but right now I’m checking multiple news sources multiple times a day.  With all that’s going on, I find I have less patience for the little, annoying things.

This morning on CNN, the cover image on a video news clip included the phrase “#LetsTalk”.

Ugh.

Really, CNN?

Before I go any further, I should confess that I don’t use Twitter.  My online presence is limited to a personal Facebook profile and this blog.  OK, so I have a Pinterest account that I occasionally check out, too.  But that’s it.  I promise.

Maybe if I used Twitter I would understand the appeal of the hashtag.  Maybe.  I doubt it, though, since I still text with proper spelling and grammar.  I’ve heard the history of the hashtag.  I know the intended purpose (grouping Tweets by topics to make it easier to search those topics), but I sometimes wonder if the users of hashtags understand that purpose.  When I see a hashtagged phrase like “gonnamurderyoutraffic,” I want to know if A), anyone else has ever used that same hashtag to make it a “topic” or “group,” and B), if anyone has ever searched that term to find other postings.  Somehow, I doubt it.  Instead, it seems like the symbol I know of as the number sign is just a magical excuse to not use the space bar or punctuation marks.

But OK, fine.  For internet use, I can forgive a lot, because the internet is a weird place and that’s one of the reasons we love it so much.

However, now people have started saying the word hashtag before expressing an idea or opinion.  A friend posted a story on Facebook about a conversation between her students in which both sides said the word “hashtag” before saying what they thought.  Why would they do that?  To group their spoken words by topic?  So people could internet-search the phrases coming out of their mouths?  I don’t get it!

Coming back to the CNN image of “#LetsTalk”, it embodies all the reasons the hashtag bothers me.  The only possible excuse I can imagine is that it referenced an actual Tweet out there somewhere, but it wasn’t mentioned in the video or news article.  Maybe one of my readers can clarify it for me.

Until then, I’m going to take the image at face value.  It was a picture on a video cover, so the phrase wasn’t hyperlinked.  There’s no discernible reason for placing the pound (or hash) symbol before those words.  Then the English teacher in me starts grammar-checking.  At least they used capital letters to distinguish between the words, which is more than many people do.  That way I know they mean “Lets talk” and not “Let stalk”.  However, since the image isn’t a true hyperlinked hashtag anyway, would it be so hard to add a space between the two words?  Also, it should be “Let’s” with an apostrophe to make it a contraction of the words “Let us”.  “Lets” without an apostrophe means “allows”.  Unless that is what’s going on… Is someone allowing someone else to talk?  Come on, CNN.  A little clarity goes a long way.

Maybe this rant is me taking out other life-frustrations on the innocent hashtag – but I have found it annoying for years, so I don’t feel too bad about making it my scapegoat.  I do feel better after getting that out of my system, so I’d like to end on a more lighthearted note.  Justin and Jimmy make my point with more humor than I do, so enjoy the laugh.  Just ignore the bleeped profanity at the end.

(Oh, and the day a student turns in a research paper with a hashtagged phrase in it, something bad is going to happen.  I don’t know what.)

 

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16 thoughts on “Enough with the Hashtags, Already!

  1. Ironically, Christine- that video at the end is WHY my students were using hashtag in their conversation… I think Saturday Night Live just encouraged the hashtaggers to start using it more outrageously than before…

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    • Bahahaha! I had no idea. What have I done by sharing it, then? 😛 There’s a Subway commercial that’s probably not helping matters right now, either. But can’t they hear how ridiculous it sounds?

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      • Also, I’m not going to lie- mostly I find hashtags amusing. Less annoying (and dangerous) than the trend to shout “YOLO!” and do something stupid (thankfully that trend is on the way out). But believe me, if a student EVER uses one in a paper, they will feel the Wrath of the English Teacher. 🙂

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      • True. It is better than the YOLO trend, and sometimes they can be amusing. I’ll give you that. Also, for some reason, I pictured your version of the Wrath of the English Teacher to involve red eyes and steam coming out of your ears. 🙂

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  2. Hi Christi… *cough cough* Mrs. Roberson,

    I’m not a fan of either CNN or Twitter. I’d assume Let’s Talk is the title of a show, or something? They put the hashtag there, so that people can join the conversation. All the people using that hashtag will be able to read what others have said about the show/video/whatever.

    Remember how back in the late 90s, all the interviewers/journalists/hosts began displaying their email address at the bottom of the screen, rather than their name? Things have evolved. Now it’s their Facebook profile. Why would I want to send an email to that journalist? Now, why would I want to visit her profile? Do I really want to know everything about her last born?

    I can’t buy anything without both a Facebook profile and a hashtag printed prominently on the label or package. I just want to drink a Pepsi, not talk about it with other people who also happen to drink one at the same time.

    I share your rant. I hate this bubble. I hope it bursts soon. I’m not on Facebook, or Twitter, or . I have a blog and that’s about all I need. I’ll keep you a warmth place on my #cloud in #heaven at the end of this #life if the bubble haven’t #burst yet.

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    • No, it wasn’t a talk show. I could understand that. It was a CNN news report about the Republicans meeting with Obama today. I suppose they could be trying to generate Twitter discussions about the report, but if so, it was kind of generic phrasing choice. That’s what bugged me. I wanted the news, not Twitter trends.

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  3. I get so annoyed when I see a million hashtags on FB posts – usually pictures. I think it is connected to instagram? But so, so annoying to see a picture with 10,000 hashtags after it. Ugh.

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  4. I agree- the absolute worst is when people use it in spoken conversations. I used to have a friend who did that. Used to. She was annoying for other reasons, too, but that was the biggest reason I couldn’t stand to be within earshot. “And I was all, ‘hashtag AWESOME!'”
    Oh, and you just inspired tomorrow’s Emma post. Whoo-hoo!

    #Hashtagsarestupid 😉

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  5. Alright, I’ll try to explain the whole hashtag thing. First, it can’t be #Let’sTalk because Twitter won’t allow punctuation in their hashtags. Second, CNN promotes that hashtag because they want to get people talking online about what they are talking about on TV. If people see the discussion online, perhaps they would be inclined to turn the TV on and watch, thus increasing ratings. Plus, TV stations always want to make it look like they are viewer friendly and interactive, so Twitter helps them accomplish that.

    As for the hashtags that people create that sound stupid…it’s because they don’t care about their tweet getting grouped with a bunch of others. It’s for humour purposes only. Unless you’re famous, the main followers you will have on Twitter are your friends. Many people tweet something and create a hashtag as a form of punchline to what they just said, or as a descriptor for what they are talking about. For example, looking at a friend’s tweet right now about an intramural hockey game they won and afterwards they wrote “#StreakLivesOn”. It’s a harmless hashtag that isn’t meant to be grouped together.

    I understand it all sounds weird and probably stupid. Before I got Twitter, I thought that too. But as a Twitter user, when I see long hashtags from people, it doesn’t bother me at all because that’s the environment of Twitter. Unless you’re a user, you won’t fully understand. But I agree, saying the word “hashtag” out loud, is ridiculous.

    Hope this helped.

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