I’ve got this thing for #hashtags.
Right, the pound-signed words and phrases flooding social media, billboards, TVs, sports gear, business marketing, social activism and conversations the world over.
Since they’re specifically intended to creatively yet easily mark keywords and topics, I can do without the growing overabundance of hashtag paragraphs. They totally miss the mark.
What I adore is the hashtag’s organic origin. Twitter users started the trend as a way to organize messages and categorize conversations. The first was in 2007.
Other forums followed suit, transforming the most frequently used symbol on Twitter into something more universal, something so meaningful it can get people to talk and get things changed.
Enter me and my hashtag soapbox. On Facebook, or headed that way.
In no particular order:
#bethebrilliance: Attached to positive images, innovative ideas and against-the-odds accomplishments, #bethebrilliance counters negative images that permeate society and psyches around everything from race and gender identity to disability, sexual preference and religion.
#letmereadit: In my head, it’s the start of a grassroots campaign to keep the conversation going about the no-no of texting and driving, urging a pact between drivers and passengers that agrees, “You’re driving. I’m riding. Just let me read it!”
For a couple of months now, I’ve used #bethebrilliance on a few of my Facebook posts.
There’s a story about a former inmate who hires ex-cons at his construction company, demolishing a roadblock to gainful employment for men with rap sheets. And a story about black prison inmates who whipped Harvard’s debate team, debunking a stream of stereotypes suggesting it would be impossible.
News of Shonda Rhimes’ #Shondaland adding “Still Star-Crossed” – a sequel to Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” – to ABC’s lineup deserved #bethebrilliance, too. So did a video of U.S Attorney General Loretta Lynch announcing the Justice Department will sue North Carolina over House Bill 2.
Certainly there’s more, from a Caribbean artist re-drawing popular fairytale characters to match her culture and heritage to a celebratory photo of African-American female graduates of a historically black college’s medical school and, yes, West Point.
With #letmereadit, I think: What if, as we’re lodging don’t-text-and-drive admonitions to our teen drivers – and sometimes reminding ourselves and each other – why not add a pact as an option, if you just have to know what’s been texted by whom.
Besides the fact I’m the mom of a teenage daughter, I understand and appreciate privacy as much as the next man, woman or youngster. But there’s no need to explain why texting while driving is a deadly combination, so a bit of revelation is way better than the alternative. Right?
Nowadays it’s somebody’s business to track hashtags using sophisticated algorithms to keep up with which ones are becoming more popular, which ones fall off and which ones stick around awhile. There’s even a hashtag directory or two to help us stay in the loop, or start a chain of chatter distinctive enough to inspire longevity.
For example, consider #YOLO, #TBT, #BlackLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter.
Will either of my hashtags trend? Probably not. Will anybody pick up on the when-why-how of either of them, without me completing my current research and registering an official definition with a hashtag portal? Not likely, either.
Will I seek trademark protection in a climate wavering on whether hashtags deserve one or not? So far, it’s just research and a poor man’s copyright.
Still, it’s me making a statement about stuff that matters. And I’m grateful Twitterdom gave me a way to get on board and spark conversation, maybe even action.
Shucks, like Daddy always said, referring to good or bad stuff come to roost: Why not me?
And if somebody’s already coined one, or both, perhaps my 2 cents will move ’em to the “trending” column.