Monthly Archives: February 2014

Hashtags as Parenthetical Commentary

I have been sick in bed for the last week and took the opportunity to read way way too many odd vampire/supernatural YA books.  As I was composing a Facebook update on the situation I found an almost unnatural urge to hashtag the hell out of it.  Specifically:

I have spent the last week sick in bed reading trashy YA fiction.  

#noshame #wellsomeshame #no #noshame!

It’s unnatural because I hate hashtags.  They look ugly, tend to pile up at the ends of things, and seem like yet another way to sell yourself, SEO your social media up the wazoo.  However, I do love parenthetical commentary (the act of adding a somewhat random or underemphasized comment to text).  #seewhatIdidthere #alsowhatIdidthere

There’s a certain allure with saying something without “owning up” to saying it. Hashtagging how I feel about reading trashy YA fiction allows me to indicate my mixed feelings without actually having to own up to either the reading or the mixed feelings.

I wonder if, as we live increasingly in a text-based atmosphere where vocal and body language nuance are stripped out, if this sort of sub-conversational comments will increase.  Even as we’ve moved to platforms where there is less text-based information such as Instagram, hashtags have become even more popular.

Note:  While this occurred to me unprompted, I am not the first person to note this behavior.  Language Log; NYT; Gizmodo; New Yorker.

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