Hashtag Culture

Hashtags are created by placing a pound sign (#) in front of a word or phrase. This symbol is primarily used to categorize tweets on Twitter. But what else are hashtags good for?

Hashtags can clarify a message by putting it into context. People frequently communicate with text; Twitter is no exception. However, there is a small problem in communicating via words on a screen. There is a lack of non-verbal cues! Although it’s disputed exactly how much of an impact tone of voice, facial expression and body language have on communication, it’s safe to say these actions help with interpreting a message. How many times have you received a text and are not sure if it’s meant to be sarcastic or sincere? Hashtags can clear up the confusion.

The words in a hashtag hint at the real meaning of the message or reference a trending topic. Whether it’s Hollywood gossip, a political jab or a personal reflection, a hashtag can clarify the information being conveyed. For instance, “I love missing the bus #badday.” Who knows? Someone may actually like missing the bus. It may give them time to relax before work. Perhaps there is a nice view at the bus stop. But with #badday attached, there is no misinterpreting what is being said.

In addition to putting words into context, hashtags can track how an idea grows by creating a digital trail. The origin of a trending topic is easy to pinpoint when it’s categorized with a hashtag. For instance, an article featured on technologyreview.com shows how #OccupyWallStreet spread through Twitter. You can track the movement from it’s humble beginnings to what it is today.

What are some other uses for hashtags?

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