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#longhashtags

Have you noticed, dear reader, that personal hashtags on FB posts, for example, are getting longer, and longer, and longer? This being the case, what does the evolving length of #wordsconnectedtowords without spaces signify for the writer? A stop sign, I’d say.

Let us take a breather and ask some questions about this linguistic phenomena. Did Chris Messina @ Google (in 2007) intend his content search invention to be used to tell stories? Probably not. Nor did he want to patent his “invention,” if indeed it would have qualified as a patented “product,” because he knew that the internet highway would capture and proliferate whatever was useful in hashtags with our without him, for free. Which it did.

My concern is solely that of a writer: hashtags are useful for content searches, but they are not the content itself. They make a mishmash of words, sentences, concepts and stories. They are not stories. They are indicators, symbols, short-cuts, synopsi, compressed thoughts, instantaneous observations, and symptoms of a time-pressured, hyperkinetic, goal-driven tweeting culture. Writers, real writers, not #hashtagwriters, cannot function well in such a charged environment except to say: meet me here—at this literal or virtual place—where something is happening you may be interested in.

Is it retro of me to suggest that writers stop writing hashtags, or use them only at the end of a narrative prose story? Probably. Think of me, and all educators, as guardian angels of language. The more our language is diluted, over-simplified and distorted, the harder it will be to retrieve the complexities of thought required in our challenging world. Our children must be taught to think, to analyze, to discern fact from fiction, to make intelligent decisions and choices. They need language to do this, not #soundbytenews or #hashtags. End of story: #writersresisthashtags
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