Twitter feeds not only motivate short and concise messages that are usually made up of more shortened words and phrases, but they are unique in including symbols in their messages such as the Hash tag symbol "#", which "Twitterers" are implementing in creative ways and changing the way we view Hash tags and their original purpose. On the Twitter Help Center website, it states that Hash tags are placed "before a relevant word or phrase (no spaces) in their Tweet to categorize those Tweets and help them show more easily in Twitter Search." However, people have the freedom to hash tag whatever they wish, such that the hash tag itself becomes the message that it normally accompanies. Someone can search #youcantrytosearchmeifyouwantbutyouwontbeabletofindme on Twitter, but there will most likely be no results that match the hash tag. As more and more people hash tag words or phrases that either don’t help them get what they’re searching for, or say something that could’ve been said without the “#” symbol, it reveals an emergence of a new culture through the unique usage of hash tags, which also reveals an awareness of a new conscience in our use of language.
The new way of understanding language with the emergence of Hash tags involves sharing a message that communicates something different with the addition of “#”. For example, in response to scorching weather, people may post pictures of themselves sweating profusely under the blazing sun, and would want publicize this with a message that implies the suspicions of the end of the world by tweeting “#2012”. If the picture was accompanied by a standard sentence which asked, “The weather is the hottest we’ve had this year. Could this be an early sign of the end of the world?” it is possible that there would be a different effect reading it than if it was accompanied with a hash tagged version. In one sense the hash tag expresses a general idea that motivated a tweet (or a Twitpic), but the hash tag can also be a clever statement, because it is a creative way to express something - a more creative way than straightforwardly asking the question or making a general statement- to an extent where a hash tag symbol can indicate that it is a clever statement before it is even read.
Tweets like this can also evaporate the seriousness of a statement that might deal with a sensitive matter, such as someone who condemns corporations for exploiting valuable resources in third world countries, but hash tags #firstworldproblems on a Facebook status update on how horrible their coffee tasted and therefore ruined the start of a pleasant morning. In fact, if the hash tag is used more for these purposes rather than the original purpose of easily searching tweets, hash tags can alternatively motivate a search for clever things people say within their hash tags (ironically, this search may be motivated by the “no-space rule” that people still hold fast to when hash tagging) and a better understanding of the intention behind their tweet. Also, when hash tags are shown up in Google searches, Facebook status updates, and even recited on the radio, hash tags are no longer specific to Twitter, but are part of our everyday language, or at least the language of the internet, which for the most part is an integral part of our lives.
Hash tagging has produced a new way of speaking, to the point where something might not be said correctly or intentionally without the hash tag symbol, like a question without a question mark. The growing usage of one symbol in our utterances has proven to be powerful enough to change the way we speak, understand, and perceive. However, the hash tag symbol may not be solely responsible for this change. As social creatures, it is in our nature to like being accepted, followed, and understood by others: hash tagging might simply be the tool that we use to unashamedly express this nature. It’s not surprising that many people who use Twitter would “hash tag” along with the trend.
Janet Jackson has over a billion reasons to be smiling lately.What is she worth?