Gah! We’ve #hijackedthehashtags!

Ah, hashtags.  They used to be these handy little things for adding context and metadata to our tweets.  How diligently we hashtagged keywords, events, names, products, brands.  And how useful it was, with our Twitter streams beautifully ordered. We knew what was important.  There was even such a thing as hashtag etiquette (“use sparingly, use the right term, or people might UNFOLLOW YOU”). How quaint!

But it’s all gone a bit wrong.  We have hijacked the hashtag.

Not everyone, just frivolous types like me and @LisaBarone.  We’ve discovered what fun we can have with it.  The hashtag has become an oft-employed comedy tactic, underscoring otherwise banal tweets with what we’re really thinking.  It’s like the thought bubble in our Twitter cartoon strip, played off against the straight-man speech bubble of the tweet.

And now it’s chaos out there.  Hashtags in this instance have become nothing to do with a trending topic, and everything to do with entertaining people, encouraging banter and having a bit more fun.

What I think is interesting is that the two seemingly opposite uses of hashtags (one orders, the other is more about disorder) exist alongside each other pretty well. And it’s all about context.  When I mention / engage with people, I perhaps wouldn’t #hijackthehashtag if I don’t know them or if the context isn’t right.  Maybe I don’t want to make them laugh.  And of course, you can have too much of a good thing.

But for certain instances when only humour – or at least a little less seriousness – will do, and when I’m most engaged with my Twitter crowd, #highjackingthehashtag rocks.

Stand back and you’ll see that the beauty of it all is that we are constantly finding new ways to engage in 140 characters, ingeniously using what exists and bending it to fit our needs, spotting the joke, joining in, engaging more.

So I can’t bring myself to get too serious or responsible about it.  It’s not for everyone – that’s probably the point. It is tweviance, let’s face it. And while it might not be compatible with that mysterious unwritten Twitter code of conduct, it’s coming into the mainstream and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

In fact, it’s exciting.  The relationships I have been fortunate enough to build in 140 characters are precious, life-affirming, often joyful things.  See how much we can achieve in 140 characters with a little ingenuity? I’m in no doubt, #thehashtagshelped.

Kate Spiers is Founder of Wisdom London.

And she is relatively remorseless about #hijackingthehashtag.  See more hashtag tweviance here!

3 Responses to “Gah! We’ve #hijackedthehashtags!”

  1. Not only a rocking blogpost title, but a great post highlighting how Twitter has changed comms amongst peer groups.

    I for one, have been delighted by the #hashtaghijack from Wisdom London; yes, we still need the “serious” tagging to bring order to a very fast flowing Twitter stream, but we also need to dilute this with context and personality – something Kate has in bucketloads!

    So I salute you, Wisdom London, for the headline AND bringing your take to Twitter.

    #Maygodblessyou&allwhotweetwithyou #word 🙂

  2. […] can also create a page based on a #tag, so you can collate everything on a certain subject, or let people submit content to your page […]

  3. Yes, I am a little slow on the uptake only reading this post now I know I know!
    I Loved it. Insightful and witty 🙂

    Hashtags are slowly taking over my life. Who would have thought?! It took me a little longer than most to buy into them. I think in the first instance this was because I followed the “rules” and as such couldnt be bothered to always search for the *best* hashtag (the one which related best to what I was saying).

    I much prefer this use. It tells me so much more about what people are thinking. And in all honesty it’s rarely I will use a hashtag to find anything – there are much better ways for searching!

    PS I considered writing this whole comment as a hashtag – but then realised it would have been impossible to read #suchafool

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