At MTV, we’ve been fascinated by how the humble hashtag has become an icon of Millennial communication – not just on Twitter, but also in texts, Facebook posts and in regular conversation.
Its a kind of "Swiss Army Knife" of new age punctuation, and depending on context, can serve a whole functions… and helps packs more punch into your 144 characters.
We asked our interns Jaclyn Rosen (University of Florida) & Jessica Cohen (Washington University) to delve into the complex world of hashtagging and help us to decode and “categorize” their generations’ uses of this zeitgesit keystroke. Here's their #RosettaStone:
Instant punchline: To amplify an otherwise ordinary statement into a joke (and therefore into social currency)
Example: Pin stripes, top hat, gloves and a cane? Well shit… #prom #yolo #herdinghoeslikesheep
Example: A homeless man told me I was “pretty hot for a white girl” #IsThatACompliment?
The pre-emptive excuse: To undercut our arrogance when we want to complain a little about our #firstworldproblems, or to be brutally honest.
Example: “I couldn’t even tell ya the price of gas right now. I just buy it. Don’t even look #sorryimnotsorry”
Example: Harry’s tattooed arm looks like a small child doodled on him #SorryNotSorry Why am I so in love with that loser?
The veiled confession (or the bargain therapy session): To reveal our innermost thoughts to the world. “Tweet to me” is the new “talk to me”.
Example: #10WorstFeelings Going to bed with a broken heart.
The digital dog whistle: To connect with friends (& strangers) who share similar interests and are on the same special wavelength.
Example: #WhatMostWomenWant To eat without getting fat
Example: Stiles from #TeenWolf is the best freakin character… ever.
When the archeologists of the future dig down to understand the lives of ancient civilizations, they will no doubt have a field day with this one. Turning those 2 sets of parrallel lines in their muddy fingers they'll perhaps wonder "how did something that meant 'number' or was called 'the pound sign' become this....?"
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