HASHTAG is the new Matrix – 11 years of unique expression

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If you would have noticed in the past few weeks, Internet’s most notorious sign has started popping up in YouTube. (Hyperlink). After resisting the temptation for about eleven (Hyperlink) years, YouTube has finally yielded. (Inset)

It is now time to say,

Hashtag is the new matrix.

#90sSciFi #BackWhenWachowskysWereBrothers #NeoIsTheRealDeal #TeamRed #IDontKnowGhostInTheShell #ThereIsNoSpoon #SeriouslyWhereIsMySpoon

Looking back, it’s unbelievable that Twitter initially dismissed the idea of using Hashtags as meta-tags as a nerd’s quirk. Chris Messina, an American developer, suggested using Hashtag, as twitter does not have groups.

The idea did not garner any traction until the 2007 San Diego Forest Fire when people started to express under a common, searchable entity.

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And it spread like wildfire. (Sorry, bad pun)

Today Hashtag has virtually become ubiquitous in the virtual world. Hashtags express what words are too uncool to express.The millennials really go for the overkill when they are busy, excited, bored, sad, elated… #whatever

So much so that platforms like Instagram are trying to put a cap on the number of Hashtags on every post.

(The current limit is T.H.I.R.T.Y. Wow. #We #all #know #afriend #whose #language #has #permanently #become #injured #and #feels #naked #without #the #tag)

As usual, marketing tactics use the compass of Social Behaviour. It has become a common sight now to see Hashtags jump out of online spaces to offline commercial media. Here’s the screengrab from a recent MRF Tires TVC:

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Without any specific meaning

unto itself, it is increasingly creeping towards the centre of our expression online. It is now collating mass social chatter on all things from the trivial and flaky…

 

…to the downright serious moments. (Arab Spring, Black Lives Matter, Me too, Demonetisation)

Also, there is a small but stubborn section of the internet that is concerned with the invasion of Hashtags into our conversations and the unsavoury implications of it.

 

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In the following parts of this series we will take a look a consummate look at this phenomenon that has morphed into a channel to our online communication.

  1. Part 1: The Evolution of Hashtag
  2. Part 2: The Race to master the Hashtag by Brands
  3. Part 3: The Future of Hashtag
  4. Part 4: Have we taken it too far? Or are we at least mindful of it.