There was a time when we turned to hashtags only when we needed to search for some specific tweet. With time, hashtags evolved and began to become a part of daily nuances. It was not long when hashtags started showing up everywhere- T-shirts and book covers, normal conversation and signs.
From being a part of everyday conversation, hashtags slowly began to represent a slogan! When we look back at Michelle Obama’s #BringBackOurGirls tweet in reference to 200 young women being kidnapped by extremist group in Nigeria, we are sure that slogans have now a new look. A phrase is incomplete and powerless without being followed by “#”-Tag. It has become a way of drawing immediate attention at that moment. “It’s like a call for action”- Ruth Page, professor at University of Leicester quotes. The hashtag that was born some 7 years back, now stands for “Share this and share this now” action.
Hashtags was earlier associated with politics and trending topics, the earliest being that of a tech meetup (#barcamp). It was supposed to be clickable but today an image with a hashtag #cappuccino when clicked, nothing actually happens. Hashtags are a not-at-all-subtle-hint that the tag needs to be repeated instead of just viewing and letting it pass!
From being an information to be shared, it is more of an instruction to start sharing. Susan Herring, professor of Information Science and Linguistics at Indiana University quoted “There may be two historical antecedents that converge in the sloganizing of hashtags: on the one hand, you have the use of hashtags to talk about political causes on Twitter and on the other, there’s the use of hashtags to cause topics to trend” while talking about Twitter’s list of ‘trending topics’.
Gone are those days when we identified a slogan by the way letters are pinned, or by an exclamation mark, or may be choice of colour and font. This is the age of 140 characters which does not differ in size or colour. Instead of typographic variation, what we have is four perpendicular lines cutting across each other. If you just write “Lets do it”, it does not emphasize the urgency of doing the deed. Add a # to it and see the power of #WeCaDoIt streaming in your Twitter feeds.
Social media has become such a crucial part in our decisions and actions that we look for power in tags. Whether it is a protest, or asking for justice, or showing your disagreement, or may be your acceptance- nothing can start without a prefix “#”. Be it Twitter or Facebook, hashtags are everywhere. It has become a universal code across all social media platforms. To spread a hashtag, you definitely need a hashtag! An offline lecture will not be accountable if you are not having a similar hashtag to take the conversation forward online!