Today: Feb 25, 2024

The new English #language

Savannah Mul – Opinions Editor

#YOLO, translated to you only live once. #TAM, meaning that awkward moment… #FirstWorldProblems. #FF, Follow Friday. #Winning.

These are all another form of the English language, which are commonly hashtags. The increasing popularity of Twitter and the start of trending topics, which are usually current event issues, have  all helped jumpstart the use of hashtags within the English vocabulary—or at least made them become part of the English vocabulary.

According to Twitter.com within their help center addition to the site, it defines the meaning of hashtags for the impaired technological users who aren’t quite sure of what they are or why exactly they’re there. “The # symbol, called hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.”

Hashtags are simple small phrases that can be just a word that summarizes a feeling, whether it be sarcastic, or to show a true emotion—or in the case of Instagram, to describe every little detail within the picture. Is there really a need for that?

Last year I attended Relay For Life in my hometown of Cheshire. Each year the team names and t-shirt designs get more creative and adapt to whatever recent pop culture phenomenon is happening. So when I saw the team name #Cure, I was not surprised. Also, I was kind of mad that I didn’t think of that name when I was part of a team. It’s fast, understandable and gets the point across, which is exactly the definition of a hashtag.

Hashtags contain ideas, keywords and add to the storytelling process. For tweets using #YOLO, browsing through Twitter and searching this particular hashtag, you might come across odd tweets like, “Burgers for breakfast #YOLO” or “Celebrating with margaritas tonight, have an 8 a.m. class tomorrow #YOLO.” This hashtag became increasingly popular and it did so fast. I see shirts with this phrase printed on it, and those wearing them walk around like they don’t get any flying saucers!

But I shamefully admit that for the first month or so when this specific hashtag was used, I had to turn to my 18-year-old sister—otherwise known as my hashtag dictionary—and ask her to define the meaning. She laughed of course, and said to me, “I can’t believe you don’t know what that means; you only live once, duh.” Her tone sounded as if she just stepped off of the Mean Girls movie set. New hashtags come out every day and there is no way that I can keep up with the ever-changing lingo, or dare I say language?

It can quite possibly be that in five years common hashtag phrases might even end up in dictionaries. But wait a second, who looks at dictionaries anymore now that there’s an app for that? What has our generation become? Lazy? Yes, lazy in all aspects of living. Again, I’ll shamefully attest to that. If I am sitting downstairs in the living room, there has been times when I need something in my room and I’ll call or text my sister upstairs and ask her to bring whatever it is that I’m missing when she comes downstairs next. My parents yell when they see this happening, and I know I’m not alone in admitting that I’ve done that before. #YOLO right?

The use of hashtags in today’s twitter-verse, as well as the whole social media sphere, is a language; and it makes it possible to convey thoughts and ideas just as easy then writing out simple sentence. Yet, when having a conversation with someone and the person begins speaking in hashtags, that’s when you know the art of conversation, will be close to dead in the future.

I speak in abbreviations sometimes, but when someone slips in “#TAM” during a conversation and goes on to say how he or she ran into their ex with their arm around someone new, I would be lost. Because it wasn’t until a week ago that I found out what #TAM actually meant. No, I’m not living under a rock.

Though I am an avid Twitter user and subject myself to too many social media and multimedia sites out there, I don’t consume myself with the latest popular hashtags out there today. Except to try searching #TAM within the Twitter feed. Some interesting tweets are bound to come up which will leave you thinking, “What the heck!” People are crazy.

We are a hashtag generation. Just look at one specific hashtag made oh, so popular from Charlie Sheen, “#winning,” and think of how many times you’ve seen this spread all over Twitter. From Sheen, saying a comment about “winning” spread so fast on Twitter, it then became the latest hashtag; most people included it in their tweets even if there wasn’t a purpose.

It’s to Twitter that we owe all of our thanks to. The site created hashtags for information to be shared and spread faster, which was definitely achieved. So in the words of today’s generation: #YOLO.

 

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