Okay, so I think I need a tutor. I have always considered myself technology savvy. I have been active on computers since their introduction and have both installed, troubleshot, and updated my own systems. But some of this new stuff – apps and lingo and such – just does not compute in my antiquated brain. Why is this so hard?
For example – hashtags. Yes, I am carbon-dating myself here, but in my day (ancient as it may be) the pound sign (#) preceded a numeric value. Period. If you skew it a bit, it might look like a musical “sharp” symbol. But no matter the presentation, it has now become the universal symbol for my confusion. I am curious who decides how to adapt this stuff and how it becomes entrenched into daily life. So, off to #HashtagsForDummies I went.
Dating back to 1988, the pound sign was originally adopted for use within IRC networks (Internet Relay Chat). It labeled groups and topics. Since I do not remember this specifically, I am guessing it was initially significant for internet junkies and computer nerds only. Although, I have limited recollection of its use on “CompuServe,” one of the first-ever chat platforms.
It was not until 2007 that the use of hashtags was first proposed via Twitter by American blogger, product consultant, and speaker Chris Messina. He proposed the vertical/associational grouping of messages, trends, and events to identify digital content on the Twitter platform. Its intent was to be a type of metadata tag making it possible for others to easily search and find messages with a specific theme or content.
Humorously, in 2013, Twitter supposedly told the Wall Street Journal that "these things are for nerds" and their use "wouldn't be adopted widely." By the end of the decade, though, we all know how this ended. Hashtags are mainstream in the culture of all social media platforms.
And, of course, studies about the nerdy (or savvy?) activity are rampant. They have shown that hashtags assist students in voicing their opinions. Related research demonstrated how high school students engaging in hashtag communication practices allowed them to develop storytelling skills and cultural awareness. Oh my, how the world has changed. In my day, we took a speech class.
So, I did the newbie thing and typed #sassysentiments into my search bar. Voila! The search brought up a link to my website. Well, that is very cool. Then I typed #randomrants and landed on some random blog entries from 2012/13. Trying to be kind, it was not something I would hope to be linked to! So, how do you really maximize the benefits of hashtags? My hand is raised, tutor. Help me! Feel free, readers, to educate me.
Then, there are @ tags. These are less confusing. Email addresses always use @ symbols to identify the platform. So, it makes sense that the @ symbol identifies and finds specific members and user profiles on social media. I think my tutor can skip this topic.
This exercise has helped me realize that using hashtags has many advantages. Most importantly, they engage people more and could drive more traffic to this site. They could help readers find my posts easily and show them my personality and sense of humor. I think I finally get it - #CluelessRedhead, #SassyStupidity, #OldPeopleRock. Ah, but that is fodder for yet another rant.
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