Sunday, November 14, 2010

Twitter Speak

An odd tendency has slipped into my spoken communication lately: the desire to add a punchline in the form of a hashtag. For those of you who don’t use/don’t pay attention to/hate with a burning passion all things Twitter, let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

A hashtag is this: # (the sign formerly known as “pound”). It’s a way to unite tweets in the twitterverse. For instance, the hashtag #followfriday (or #FF) is a way for people (on Fridays) to suggest that other tweeps follow the same people they follow. #moviesinmypants was a trending topic in which people could take movie titles, add the phrase “in my pants” to it, and laugh until they peed themselves. I think the movie Shaft (in my pants) was the frontrunner, but personally I preferred my entry Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (in my pants).

The hashtag has evolved, though, into a way for individuals to punch up a joke or reveal irony in their tweets. Remember you’ve only got 140 characters, and sometimes you have to condense your thoughts to convey them in a single tweet. A couple examples:

@NicolePeeler (Author of the awesome Jane True series from @orbitbooks)

I feel like my sex scene lacks rhythm #whitegirlscanthump

@michaelianblack (Comedian and author of several acclaimed children’s books, including A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea)

I have no cash on me so I stole one of my daughter's dollars to put under her pillow after she lost a tooth last night. #true #shithead

So now I find myself in conversations where I have something funny to say, but it will only be really funny with a hashtag ending. However, unlike “air quotes”, hashtags don’t yet have an off-the-page equivalent. At least, nothing that doesn’t resemble throwing out gang signs, which are frowned upon at our office.

I assume that, somewhere out there, a university is in the process of applying for a grant to study this phenomenon (the etymology of hashtag humor, not my ignorant and probably offensive use of gang signs). I look forward to the results of the study.

For the time being, I will clasp my hands firmly in front of me while speaking, and work on my comic timing.


  1. Ohmygod, I thought it was just me that suffered from this malady. #itsanepidemic

  2. I totally do this. #LikeAllTheTime

    I send emails and I'm dying to say hashtags. (To none Twitter people. #pointless)

    I mean, really. #ItsAnAddiction

    I even capitalize each word to make it easier to read for my Tweeps. #ImCoolLikeThat

  3. YES! Also have a problem with wanting to put hashtags into work emails. #theywouldntgetit #notatall

    Love the nod to Princess Bride. #InigoMontoya

  4. I felt a little bit like a crazy person when I posted this, so I'm so glad to see #I'mNotAlone!

    Sue - all (good) roads lead back to The Princess Bride #thingsItellmyself

  5. Wow. I didn't understand an embarrassing portion of that. As a non-Twitterer, I feel like that guy in the corner trying to change the tv channel with his cell phone. *Sigh* I suppose I shall have to learn this stuff. [wanders off muttering about platform]

  6. Platform, shmatform (my new favorite word: shmatform). You know, I've been to a couple of good seminars, listened to a few decent webinars, and read tons on platform. And all they agree on is that nobody knows what works and what doesn't. If you hate twitter or blogging and tweet or blog because you feel like you have to, it will show through.

    Find the media that you either like or can tolerate, and feel moderately comfortable with, and go with it. Some people love quarterly email newsletters and can spend hours on Facebook. I am oppo-Facebook, but can sort of handle a blog and actually really enjoy twitter. Whatever works for _you_.