What our hashtags say about us


The Appalachian Online

Justin Chandler

To trend, or not to trend, that is the question.

As a society, we are in the midst of a technological boom that can rival the dot-com bubble of the ’90s: the social media boom.

While the mere existence of socializing through websites is nothing new (if one remembers the very early days of internet forums and comment sections on news articles supported via America Online), websites devoted specifically to social media prospered in the early 2000s with Myspace, Facebook and other third-party variants.

In 2006, Twitter threw its proverbial hands into the ring and introduced an interesting feature: the hashtag.

It seems everything nowadays relies on hashtags, including social movements, T-shirts and even movie trailers, but perhaps there’s more to it than simply being trendy.

Perhaps it has some deeper cultural meaning for our society, specifically within Generation Y, or the Millennials. I’m not suggesting that it is some complicated, Illuminati-driven complex, but our tendency to hashtag everything speaks volumes toward our outlook on life.

Think back to four years ago when Drake released his single “The Motto.” What phrase became popular with his rising status? YOLO, or “you only live once.”

That phrase became synonymous with our generation as people began to live for the moment and seize the day, a modern day “carpe diem,” and you couldn’t throw a rock in the air without it hitting someone who would say “YOLO!”

Social media certainly aided in spreading its popularity, and no doubt that it became a trending item.

We also live in a time where we seek immediate gratification, from fast food joints emerging everyday like wildfires and two-day shipping on Amazon Prime.

While our patience hasn’t wavered in some aspects, we still try to fulfill our needs on the balls of our feet. Our society wants things here, now and with a side of fries.

Combine the immediacy we seek, the attitude of living once, and instant social connection literally at the palm of our hands, and it makes sense why we use hashtags: we want to preserve moments.

We are a generation that strives to capture every memory and connect with global events with a sense of community.

Consider the last time you used a hashtag with a selfie, why did you do it? You wanted to share it among friends and family, and the hashtag aided in its unique value.

Surmise to say, I believe that our generation, Generation Y, is the generation that wants to live in the moment and never let it go, and hashtags on social media are the nets to our swimming memories.

Chandler, a senior middle grades education major from Icard, is an opinion writer.