Tacking a hashtag on the end of an update is not as innocuous as you'd think. Sure, it's all fun and retweets when you're typing your 80th #Sandy, but what about when it proved foundational to the undoing of Gaddafi's #Libya. Or, when we saw it take over the #occupywallstreet movement? Indeed, from pithy punch lines to serious shifts in the global power structure, one thing is quite clear: The # has a wide range of possibilities.
That said, the symbol is not without its naysayers. Heck we'll admit it, we're not comfortable with the sheer amount of wishy-washy wisecracks that get away with it. Nevertheless, it's more a matter of neglect, than negative feedback — academics simply won't acknowledge the hashtag as a literary device.
However, in her recent article for New York Times Magazine, writer Julia Turner offers praise for the uncelebrated sign. Though she hailed its incredible utility to crowdsourcing and collating information, the hashtag's burgeoning poetic potential was really what Turner wants to see trending — without a doubt, some of her colleagues would call #blasphemy, but we kind of agree! Hashtagging (much like poetry in its more familiar forms) enables humor, invites punning wordplay, and even lends itself to compressed comparisons, à la "For the best laid plans, check Refinery29 first" to “For the best laid plans #refinery29."
What do you think of Turner's take? Does the hashtag really have all that hidden potential? (New York Times Magazine)
Photo: Via New York Times Magazine