Wednesday, October 17, 2012


We are alive during a social phenomenon...much akin to the 70's Sitcom. This movement began shortly after the installation of Twitter as a major social networking system. Then came Instagram to heighten its use. And your iPhone is not innocent of influence either. Welcome to the hashtag generation.

If you know enough to click on the link to this blog, you've heard of Twitter. Whatever your opinion of this, it's been around since 2006 and is not going away for a while. Sure, thousands of young nerds all over the world are designing new ways to network, but we will not see a reinvention of this wheel that works better for a while. People use the hashtag symbol # before a relevant keyword or phrase (no spaces) in their Tweet to categorize those Tweets or Instagram photos and help them show more easily in Search.

Let's look at the positive results of Twitter: (Interesting that I am commenting on it since I don't tweet)
  • You can keep up with whatever Katy Perry and Justin Beiber are doing at all times.
  • You can read solid, condensed sermonettes from Matt Chandler, Louie Giglio, Perry Noble, or whichever popular, hip pastor you revere.
  • You can be "heard" on any politician's Twitter site...whatever good that does.
  • You can hashtag until the cows come home.
Now that last one is my personal favorite. I'm a hashtagger without a Twitter account because I do it on Instagram. Not only do I do it on Instagram, I include tags in text messages. Not only do I include tags in text messages, I have been known to actually utter the word "hashtag" followed by a spoken hashtag.  

Don't act like you've never done that before.

What is the draw? What reels you into this hashtanguage and makes you start thinking in short phrases? I'll give some examples. Some of the more popular hashtags on Twitter and Instagram are:

#tbt (throwback thursday)
and my personal favorite: #bobbygram

However, some people, myself included, have been known to hashtag a whole sentence. That's always fun to try and read.

Here's some #hashtetiquette:
  • If you use a hashtag on a public account, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your Tweet
  • Don't over-tag a single Tweet or Instagram photo. (Best practices recommend using no more than 2 hashtags per Tweet/Instagram.)
  • Do a spell check. There's nothing that looks more ignorant than a misspelled hashtag. Well...I guess there are things that appear more ignorant now that I think about it. I have seen an episode of "Honey Boo Boo".
I actually spend time thinking up good hashtags because they can add a punch to your caption or your post. That's really what we are going for, isn't it? The punch. The oomph. The memorable line that makes your post stand out above all others.   

In the Millenial Generation (aka "Generation Y) we have taught ourselves to pay attention quickly. Which is just another way of saying we are moving at a rapid pace toward mass attention deficit disorder. "Let's just get to the point!" our brains are screaming. We need a "point" now more than ever, don't we? If only we could hashtag our way through school, or win an argument with our parents using hashtags, or talk ourselves out of tickets using hashtags:

I could go on and on.

Think of all the unncessesary words we use in a day. This would save us time, energy, and actually save words! YES! SAVE THE WORDS! We could start a non-profit for saving the words and get some tee-shirts made up with the logo on the front:

Men all over the world will jump on this bandwagon because they don't like to talk anyway. (my husband excluded) Think how much money our court system will save from lack of blustering attorneys. All they need to do is use hashtags like:
#objectongroundsofmalarky (thanks, joe)

Imagine your college economics class. 20 minutes tops and you're out. My poor computer graphics instructor would have had to resign from his position of lecturing on philosophy, economics, the advertising racket, and his string of "s" words he loves so dearly because he never would have been able to constrain his characters to so few letters. 

All this is in jest of course.  Like I said, I like to hashtag because it makes a point. This shortened phrase, often funny or sarcastic, points to your message with precision. Captions are sometimes misunderstood, until you read the hashtags beside them.

I'm often misunderstood until you read the hashtags I leave. It's taken Buddy 30 years of living with me and loving me to be able to finally understand my hashtags. And now, of course, I'm not talking about a phrase uttered after the number sign. I'm talking about the little things I say that are important, that define me, that show what I care about. Loving me has motivated him to figure it out. That was probably an understatement. Loving me, forgiving me, showing grace to me, supporting me, laughing at me, being proud of me, and listening to me have all shown him how to understand my hashtags. 

Lately I've been wondering what Jesus's hashtags would be if he were tweeting or posting a pic on Instagram.

#takingoutthetrash - cleansing the Temple
#takeoffyourshoes - when we enter the church, followed by a:
#lookatyourself - when we start to attack our brothers and sisters in Christ
#lookatme - when we start to attack those outside of our community of believers
#whatwouldido - when faced with a difficult decision, like whether or not to dance at a wedding. you know, something life altering. a choice that might turn non believers away from the Lord. (Well...the way some of you dance, you may just do that very thing.) #usediscretion
And finally, as you're on your knees pouring out your doubts, fears, and hopes to God, praying your guts out, heaving from pain and frustration, and are tempted to say, "just take me, Lord! Take me out of here!" Don't be surprised if his answer is two hashtags.

#takenandsecured, #youarefree

Those tags pack a punch every time I read "He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say unto the Lord, he is my refuge and fortress, My God in Him will I trust. There shall no evil befall you, neither there shall be any plague come near your dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways."

I know that one day soon, I will be through with this hashsession of mine. And another one will take it's place. But I pray that I will never be through with trying to make a point. and pack a punch with something I have to say. Because I want something to always matter to me. I want to leave an impression...the right one...when I speak, or from the way I live and love.

What hashtags define you? What point are you making with your life? your decisions?