I have finally come to realize it. I am slowly coming to terms with it as well.
I am horrible with hashtags. For a while I was not sure whether the correct form of the word is hashtag or hash tag with a space in between. Doing some hasty research for this post has revealed that hashtag the word was only updated in OED this past June [someone should tell my word processing software that]. Many times I have come across hilariously appropriate tags in posts that after entertaining me for several precious seconds [or as long as it takes to scroll on to the next thing], make me realize why I am glad my livelihood does not depend on me coming up with groovy hashtags for content. I can merely experience this from a distance and admire the creativity of the posters. Usually when I use hashtags for anything, I pick the most obvious ones. The other day I posted a picture of books and after much thought tagged it ingeniously with #books, #read and #reading. The metadata gods must have chalked up a special place for me in their book of #utter #disappointments.
I am also fascinated by those who hashtag everything that they type. Instagram photos of coffee that start somewhere in the neighborhood of #coffee, #coffeeart, #flower, #weekend, somehow end up in the vicinity of #deepthought, #bestfriends, #followme #sunset #love and so forth. To each his own, and I’m all for expression. But I do not have the talent to make a story out of hashtags that have a beginning, a middle, an end and some side notes to take away with it.
Hashtags are infinitely cool though. They are the electronic links to connect your creative output with those of others who select the same words to represent their own thoughts and ideas. Activists, protesters, marketeers, promoters, do-gooders and feel-gooders – hashtags decide who you are and what you are saying. You do not even need to form a full sentence. Just tag and you’re it! You win the approval or get the vote or stand by something with just a #. The demand for justice for horrible crimes is hashtagged. Campaigns worth millions of dollars are based on specialized hashtags that form the crux of the message. This is the direction social media has gone with and it works.
Personally I feel good about something that I came across while writing this. The number one hashtag in Instagram is #love. Love. There are more than 600 million photos that the users thought had something to do with love. There were more than 600 million instances of someone spending the few seconds it takes to type #love to link with something they took a photo of. There are more than 600 million posts about a concept that makes us feel good, that makes us feel special, that some of us strive for all our lives and that some of us really need. Love is one of the most powerful emotions there is. Love builds us and it breaks us. Love is what a lot of stuff around is really about. Maybe half of those 600 million photos had little to do with the literal meaning of love and the posters just wanted to be linked to the most popular hashtag. But I consider even a weak association as proof to it being a good thing. Love is popular. That has to be a good #sign for us.