Maybe you’re wondering, what in the world is this hashtag that everyone keeps using!? Well, a hashtag is a hash or pound sign (#) used before a word or phrase. People use hashtags on social media sites such as Instagram and Twitter. Some people have even begun using hashtags in everyday conversation! (“Aren’t they the cutest couple? #goals.”) But what is a hashtag actually for?
Sites like Twitter and Instagram have so many users and so many conversations that without something to help with the search, no one would be able to find the conversation that they want to be in.
Imagine if you and your friends, plus all your friends’ friends, were writing notes to each other on index cards. But instead of handing them to each other, you all just tossed them onto the floor. How would you know which notes are in the conversation about cats and which ones are in the conversation about the latest movie?
Now imagine that you color coded the index cards (red for cats, blue for movies etc.). Now you can see which cards you might be interested in reading.
Hashtags work the same way by creating hyperlinks, or a color coding system for computers. This is why the words in a phrase used as a hashtag are written without spaces, so the computer reads it all as one thing. When you search for a hashtag, the computer can bring up all the things that have been posted on this subject or in this conversation (#catsofinstagram, #marvelmovies).
The thing is, people don’t just use hashtags to make posts easier to search. They are also used to make puns or joke about whatever was posted. Sometimes they are used to explain or add to what the post said. They are used to identify with a certain group or mindset.
In a lot of ways, hashtags have become another way for people to communicate and express themselves. #andthatisnotabadthing