Advice from 18: Let’s Talk About Hashtags

Gabrielle Martinez, Staff Intern
A social media hashtag symbol.

A sure fire way to tell someone's personality, and most likely their age, is if they consider that overgrown square on the keyboard as a hashtag or a number sign.

In the age of 2019, hashtags are essential to online communication. These hashtags are words or phrases that follow the pound sign symbol (#) in one conjoined structure.

For example, if you posted a picture in your garden, you may choose to caption it with "#springseason." If you decide to post a picture of your Netflix home screen on a Saturday night, you may decide to add the hashtag "#someonepleasehangoutwithme."

Initially, hashtags were introduced to organize similar thoughts on specific topics. You could click on these links and see everyone else who also used the hashtag "#beyonceisqueen." That way you could connect with other users who also liked her music and killer hair choreography.

The most evolved version of this is evidently seen through the social media outlet, Twitter, and their recent addition of "Moments." This tab on the app serves the purpose of a feed for breaking news.

It sounds a little too official for a social media app, and it’s because it isn't. At times Twitter Moments do cover political controversies and industry scandals, but they also highlight stories such as the comical "Basketball Players as Turtles" or the unusual "Billy Ray Cyrus at the BET Awards."

These designated highlights not only explain themselves for those lost on the topic, but they also link you to others tweeting about that specific event or conversation.

While the form of simply hashtagging what's literally going on in the picture is still prevalent, a plethora of spam has taken reign of pretty much all of hashtag domains as well. 

This essentially means that users will put as many hashtags into a caption as they possibly can in order to reach a wider audience than before. Therefore, the "tags" aren't necessarily about the content of the post but instead are about how much traffic the trending ones will bring to that person's page.

For instance, a creative page displaying cool works of art may caption a picture of Michelangelo's "David" with "#pizza #trump #swag."

These hashtags are, as you can probably assume, very popular. In turn, someone browsing those tags will hopefully click on that page, boosting their profile's clicks and interactions.

Don't believe me? If you simply type "hashtags" into Google, the first thing that pops up is a link to gaining more Instagram followers.

As for the wording of these hashtags, they can either be oddly specific or weirdly generic. There is no in between.

A male may post a picture and caption it "#boy," but it begs the question of "why state the obvious?" However, if a guy posts a picture of him and his girlfriend and captions it "#snugglebuddlebear," then maybe you wouldn't rather know the specifics of that one, for the sake of your own sanity.

So when should you use hashtags?

One of my personal favorite uses of a hashtag is the wedding hashtag. If you're familiar with this one, then you're either a similarly enthused guest or someone who just can't handle the corniness.

If you haven't encountered a wedding hashtag, however, it can be easily defined as a hashtag created by the bride and groom that is typically a pun on their newly shared last name. This very specific hashtag allows for all guests and photographers to share images from the celebration in one communal space.

Another good use of a hashtag is to chronicle a baby or pet's growth. This could be making a very specific hashtag for just you to follow along to or, more radically, naming your dependent something no one's ever heard of (or at least haven't made a hashtag for yet).

Speaking of creating new hashtags, It won't be long until there are no more new combinations of words. We will be stuck in the endless monotony of “#likeforlike” and “#chocolatecatrainbow.”

This is what the end of the world looks like. Or it is at least to me, an eighteen year old.