By Ishaan Mahendru
Let’s just get it out of the way, shall we? If you haven’t been living under a rock and tweeting for a while or socializing on Facebook, I bet you have seen the Pound (#) symbol somewhere. So if you’ve asked yourself what does it mean and how does it work, look no further.
WHAT IS A HASHTAG?
This # symbol, called a hashtag, was originally created for twitter users by Chris Messina (now there’s a fun fact for you!) as a way to categorize their messages.
Basically # is used to identify keywords and trending topics. Hashtags, as I previously mentioned were a simple and concise way to group and organize twitter conversations. Many people use hashtags to identify what’s going on at events, emergencies and for following breaking news. Clicking on a hashtag in a tweet gives you a real time feed of all tweets using that hashtag. For example, if you click on #BreakingBad, you’ll get a list of tweets/topics/feeds related to the show.
RANT ON HOW PEOPLE USE HASHTAGS
Hashtags are one of the most misunderstood concepts ever. One reason can be due to the fact that twitter was very ambiguous about its usage. But where people do get the ENTIRE concept wrong is on Facebook. Until recently Facebook never officially supported Hashtags, but you guys know how we people are right? We see something new, cool and apparently the ‘in’ thing and Lo behold, we start using it like there’s no tomorrow. I think the misunderstanding originated because of the auto syncing feature between Twitter and Facebook. So when people used to tweet, that tweet automatically got posted to Facebook, meaning that if you are tweeting about #Halloween or #ilovechocolate then your Facebook status will show the identical message. People saw that little tiny symbol (you know what I’m talking about – #), formed their own ideas about it and blatantly started using it without any concerns about what it means. *sigh*
I’d like to present 2 instances where people get the whole idea of hashtags wrong.
Now what’s wrong with the use or rather I’d say the misuse of Hashtag. Cute ain’t it? It’s so bloody long that it takes 2 minutes to digest what is actually written. You cannot actually use this as a hashtag. It’s a big NO NO!
Another example of incorrect hashtag usage:-
I present to you the holy grail of #stupid #crazy #hashtag #use. What can I say about it? The picture speaks for itself. Its blasphemy even thinking about this one. I mean, literally it makes my head hurt.
Don’t get me wrong here people. It’s not that I don’t like hashtags – They are awesome. They’ve been a valuable part of twitter and Google plus community for years. Many other social media sites such as Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram have adopted them too and I have no problems with that. Why Facebook resisted them for so long, I’ll never understand. But what the hell, better late than never.
Now that we are done with the formalities, let’s just get with the issue at hand – HOW NOT TO BE ‘THE’ DOUCHEBAG?
- 1. #Hashtag #every #word
Don’t just hashtag every word. What would you even get by hashtagging #the. No relevant information at all. ‘The’ can’t be a trend. It’s just a simple article. So refrain from using hashtags on every ‘tom dick and harry’ words.
- 2. #justkidding #bored #crying #angry
No! Hashtags aren’t used to convey whatever you are feeling so please avoid!
- 3. #ihatemylifedon’twanttoliveanyMore
Yes! People do use hashtags like this. In fact this is a real life example from my Facebook newsfeed. A couple of things wrong with it.
Firstly, as I discussed above, it’s just too long. The hashtag needs to go on a diet ASAP.
Secondly, if for the love of god, YOU do want to use a long hashtag, please and I must stress on please, use capital letters for clarity. #IHateMyLifeDon’tWantToLiveAnyMore. See, much easier to read.
Thirdly, the presence of an apostrophe nulls the whole hashtag. Whenever you use an apostrophe, the hashtag breaks. In the above example, the actual hashtag would be something like #ihatemylifedon. Whatever is after apostrophe doesn’t get registered.
- 4. Don’t ever use a Space
Using space is another common mistake that people make and they need to STOP repeating it. For instance you cannot write #I Love My Daddy. Spacing would make it into #I.
- 5. Make sure the Hashtag looks and sounds the way you want it to be
Look at this example – #susanalbumparty. Seems pretty innocent right? Think again. It can be interpreted as Sus Anal Bum Party instead of Susan Album Party. Pretty funny eh? So what’s the lesson we learnt here? Double check your hashtags more often.
So, there we have it folks. Some simple little steps you can take to not be a hashtag douche bag ever. Just for kicks, here’s a pretty funny video of Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon on hashtags – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57dzaMaouXA – Enjoy!