Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

In Defense Of Hashtags

Even snobs and technophobes should accept the hashtag.

All but the most naturally social-network inclined express at least a mild pang of self-conscious shame when they use a #hashtag in a Facebook post, or, worse, a book or article. But no other symbol has invaded our written language quite so quickly in recent memory.


I am part of a familiarly curmudgeonly group of people. You all know at least one member of this group (I have a friend who insists on reading "#" as "pound"). We hate Twitter, mistrust Kindles, bristle at the very idea of skateboards, and generally pretend to disdain the things we don't understand.

We want you to get off our lawn.

That is why it is so hard for me to admit this: Hashtags are kind of great. 

So how can I support the use of #hashtags and still be a self-respecting Luddite snob?

#Rationalization! See, I have decided to treat hashtags as a sort of punctuation, like any other. And once you do that, you can see that having a shorthand, symbolic way to indicate the general concept to which a particular statement relates is pretty damn useful. 

Just as a semicolon (of which punctuation I am an ardent defender, contra Kurt Vonnegut, Cormac McCarthy, et al.) records a conceptual relatedness between two sentences or clauses, a hashtag can tell a reader what big idea justifies or grounds an utterance. #addedclarityinwrittencommunication

So, curmudgeons, snobs, Luddites, pedants join me! Stop turning up your nose at the hashtag. #getoveritalready

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

LIVE ON MONDAY | "Lights, camera, activism!" with Judith Light

Join multiple Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Judith Light live on Big Think at 2 pm ET on Monday.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo

Keep reading Show less

Scientists see 'rarest event ever recorded' in search for dark matter

The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.

Image source: Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
  • The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
  • The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
Keep reading Show less

Space travel could create language unintelligible to people on Earth

A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.

Cylindrical space colony.

Credit: NASA Ames Research Center.
Surprising Science
  • A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
  • Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
  • This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".
Keep reading Show less

Your emotions are the new hot commodity — and there’s an app for that

Many of the most popular apps are about self-improvement.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Personal Growth

Emotions are the newest hot commodity, and we can't get enough.

Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast