Out of all the ridiculous trends to spring forth and take the earth by storm, hashtags are one of my least favorite. Don't get me wrong. There is a time and a place for hashtags, and we'll cover that in this blog post, but the vast majority are completely ridiculous. Take this made-up example of typical hashtag (ab)use: "I can't sleep!!! #theresaspiderundermybed" With that in mind, let's examine what is so wrong about this.
Why did hashtags even come about in the first place? The hashtag is a way to make content easily searchable. It is essentially identifying a keyword that connects it with related content so that one can search for that keyword and find numerous posts that connect with that same idea. It allows us as human beings to fill 2 needs--to find belonging, because we have joined ourselves to all the others who have posted on the same subject, as well as to have our voice be heard, in that we have now contributed our two cents worth. This isn't necessarily evil.
Now, however, things have gotten out of hand. Hashtags are meant to connect your content to others' as well as to make it easily searchable--and therefore hashtags should be used things that will be searched. In our example above, the person has for some reason decided to take an entire phrase and turn it into a hashtag, possibly thinking, as one of my roommates said, that it's a concise way to express your thoughts and opinions. Internet, let me educate you: #theresaspiderundermybed is less, not more, concise than "There's a spider under my bed." English writing has evolved with word breaks. That's the way we write. It's not the way the whole world writes, but it is the way we write in English. Therefore, itisharderforanenglishreadertoreadsomethingwithnocapitalizationandnospaces than to read a normal sentence that contains the normal breaks. Getting rid of spaces just makes your thought less accessible--exactly the opposite of what hashtags are intended to do.
What's more, the person has created a hashtag out of thin air. He or she has arbitrarily put his or her thought into a hashtag. Let me tell you something: no one is ever going to search for theresaspiderundermybed. Really. And if they do, it likely won't be to see your thought that you can't sleep. If you want to use #sharegoodness, go right ahead. That's a recognizable trend. Your thought actually connects and adds to the collection (as long as it actually is a good thing, of course) and therefor makes sense. But creating a completely new and arbitrary hashtag is pointless--and it doesn't get you any more internet points if you add a dozen of them. It actually gets you more internet points to add one legitimate hashtag than a dozen random phrases with a pound sign in front.
And if that weren't bad enough, then we decided to move hashtags beyond the internet. We started using them in speech--newsflash people: your spoken words aren't, as of yet, searchable. Using a hashtag in spoken language just identifies you as an internet junkie. Listen to yourselves, people. Saying hashtag in front of what you are going to say only wastes your breath. It doesn't make you cool, hip, or trendy. It is only trendy on the internet, because trends are exactly what hashtags are about on the internet. Last week, Brigham Young University's campus newspaper, The Universe, had printed hashtags on teasers to articles listed at the top of the front page. I have lost what respect I had for the paper.
Most of all humans recognize that even good things become detrimental when taken to the extreme. Please, let us wake up and realize that hashtags have become that way, and stop the madness.