The #hashtag and old farts


Dear Void,

If Twitter was a man, I’d piss on his shoes, if not for anything else: the #hashtag. I loathe the hashtag almost as much as all-caps, acronyms, abbreviations, emoticons and vomit.

The hashtag is a meta-data tag, created by Twitter, used on social networks to label something – Twitter specifically: vacant of orthographic styling, punctuation and readability – in order to make it easy for all the Twitter-dimwits to search for lazy gobbledegook and find specific short-hand gibberish that is relevant to them without the technological knowledge to navigate a website.

The use of hashtags has, unfortunately, extended above and beyond Twitter over the years to every other social media site known to man, where everybody (and their grandmother) is looking for an excuse to use them in over-abundance. Hashtags have even gone off the grid; Traditional broadcasting, such as television, employs hashtags too, and it’s taking over context, prose and linguistics altogether.

The hashtag was intended to be used as a single postscript and a navigation tool, not a keystroke-saver, but half the population today – from teenagers to authors and journalists alike – express their emotions in hashtags, replace adjectives with hashtags and generally pepper their uninteresting, inane short-message lives up with so many hashtags, nothing they write makes any fucking sense. Nobody reads or responds to their incoherent musings – nobody understands what the fuck they are trying to say – but apparently just being there, typing hashtags, makes them feel better.

First rule of communication is to send a clear message; Writers and journalists of all people should know that. Reducing their linguistic capacity to that of village idiots and thus indicating membership in the groovy young people’s club, does not make an old fart any younger, smarter or more popular. Internet slang shortcuts surely save time for the writer, but they take twice as long for the reader to make sense of.

I can excuse the young people; It’s not their fault that they got stuck in the birth canal because their mother was busy sharing the event on Facebook and forgot to push. And that they eventually were born into a world, where writing full sentences is too time-consuming and reading anything longer than the words printed on a T-shirt is considered a waste of time, is not their fault either. But I can certainly not forgive the 40/50-year olds. They can’t find time in their moth-eaten lives to write real words and a full sentence? All that’s waiting for them is osteoporosis medicine and thinner hair anyway.