5 ways the hashtag influenced our culture

#whoknewithasbeenadecadealready

(CC) Brian Solis, image via Flickr
(CC) Brian Solis, image via Flickr

Ten years ago, the first hashtag came to be, courtesy of Twitter.

Did anyone ever expect it would become such a ubiquitous part of our daily conversations or that we would be making the hashtag symbol with our hands? Check out how the hashtag ingrained itself in our culture over the past decade.

Hashtags have become part of everyday speech
Perhaps this is more common for millennials and Gen Z-ers, but saying "hashtag awkward" or "hashtag winning" in regular conversation isn’t that unusual anymore. Some say this is killing the English language, while others say adopting the hashtag in speech is simply yet another evolution of spoken language.

They’re not just on Twitter anymore
The hashtag started on Twitter with a 2007 tweet from Chris Messina, but other social networks have adopted them. Instagram caught on to the trend four years later in 2011, and both Facebook and Google+ implemented the hashtag in 2013. Other social networks including Flickr, Tumblr, and Pinterest began supporting the hashtag on their websites around the same time, making it a constant presence across all social networks.

Hashtags build communities
Is it sappy to say hashtags bring communities together? Maybe not. Many national movements were built on hashtags, like #BlackLivesMatter or #YesAllWomen. Even less important issues like sports events or TV shows use hashtags to bring the fans together online for a community celebration or discussion. So your friends don’t watch #GameofThrones, no problem, you can easily find millions of people on the internet who do.

An alternative news source
Rather than waiting for news to appear online or on TV, the hashtag has become the way of following breaking news. For niche news that isn’t covered by the big media organizations, a hashtag is often a go-to method of keeping up with that topic. Some schools and teachers are even incorporating hashtags into their curriculum so students can research or follow a subject being covered in class.

Hashtag is in the dictionary
Merriam Webster added the word in 2014, indicating that it was here to stay for the foreseeable future. The definition, however, only refers to the written (or typed) version of hashtag. The definition reads: "a word or phrase preceded by the symbol # that classifies or categorizes the accompanying text (such as a tweet)."

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