I got into a Facebook text exchange with a friend of mine about hashtags and Instagram. The back ‘n forth was good, and it prompted a few questions. We never really quite concluded the exchange, so I thought I’d share the thought process here. Click below to see a few screen caps from the conversation, and click on the red orange circle below (in the SoudCloud clip) to launch the six-minute audio blog thought I recorded on this topic.
To set the stage: my friend is on Facebook and – since this exchange a few weeks ago – now Twitter, but not on Instagram.
Specifically my friend said: Lemme ask you this, do you think the fake hash tags dilute or undermine the real function of them?
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I thought about it. I responded generally with, “You make a great case. I can see why it would and wouldn’t.” I tried to reason this by analogy:
Is regular language tainted or diluted with (for example) vulgarity? Or do you think every day business language is marred by the occasion slang? There are some people in business who would say most certainly yes, while others we both know would say no. I guess it’s just a giant shade of gray.
I know this isn’t a direct parallel (after all, it is an analogy), but I think it makes the case: introducing something that is seemingly foreign in one setting, and then stepping back and seeing if that dilutes or otherwise deflects the true meaning or value of the intended conversation.
My friend’s response was
I think we were nearing the end of a good conversation. I closed with
To me, it’s just the lingua franca of the web – like (sadly) LOL, or LMAO. Or the o.O and other ASCII characters. It’s just “the web”.
We arrived at seeing each other’s viewpoints, and understanding them a bit more, but not necessarily liking it. I, for one, think it’s still funny to use a # symbol (octothorpe!) and then string a bunch of words together to make a hashtag (here’s a great example of a ridiculous Instagram hashtag from Ann Handley – 4th item down!). But I can see why others don’t
What about you, reader/listener? Do you think the ridiculously-long hashtags dilute online/digital conversations? Let me know in the comments.
p.s. as a way to get indoctrinated into Instagram and hashtags: