Stash The Tags

I pray people don't start hashtagging in public.

I pray people don’t start hashtagging in public.

The hashtag trend has become a bloated beast that is devouring any remaining semblance of order in our already fractured world of online communication. We’re in danger of OD-ing on tagging as it continues to breed across numerous social media sites. I’m practically starting to see hashtags in my eyes. Save me!

Seriously, I’m not trying to be a curmudgeon here. I use Facebook every day and have begun to get back into the tweet of things. Look, I understand why people use the sign formerly known as pound on Twitter. Say I post a link to an interview I did with retro popsters Neon Trees. I might add “#Music #Pop #80s” so fans can find it while searching specific topics. Makes sense, right? Or perhaps you might tweet a few folks at once with “#FF” for Follow Friday or maybe “#BestBuds” or “#NOLACrew”. Something simple. Maybe something cheeky or flirty like “#TwitterCrushes”. But those poor tags have been getting abused, and it’s time to stage an intervention.

Not content with merely adding on a few extra characters to their evidently important posts, many folks have taken tagging way further in order to sound trendy, witty or funny. Say you and your crew crash a hot club night after a long work week and want to brag to your friends. You might add “#PartyOn,” “#BeyondTheVelvetRope” or “#WorkHardPlayHard” to your tweet boast. That concept used to be mildly amusing (to some), but now it just comes off as narcissistic and dumb, especially when repeated over. And over. And over. I see hashtags being abused on Facebook too, where people aren’t limited to 140 characters. Sometimes they are twice as long as the initial post! Instagram, already a haven for self-obsession, is not immune either.

What I’ve discovered about filtering life through social media is that people want to make their lives sound more exciting than they actually are. I get that to a certain extent. Daily existence has its share of dull routine, although when everyone wants to come off as “rock stars” or “gangsta,” they just seem desperate to look cool. And that makes even interesting posts irritating. I have a good sense of humor — hey, I do plenty of self-promotion online and love to share George Takei jokes as much as the next person — but the hashtag craze echoes our lame obsession with being attention whores. Hashtags can be useful and fun, but not when relentlessly implemented.

In the following skit from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, the talk show host and his guest Justin Timberlake act out a real-life conversation in hashtag mode. It’s clever, hilarious and makes a great point. So pay attention, hashtag junkies: #StopHashtagAbuse #LearnModeration #StepAwayFromTheTags #NSyncWithJustin

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