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Ben Rimalower

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Hashtags Are Over

Posted: 07/02/2012 12:52 pm

Dear @FeldmanAdam,

Hashtags are over. Hashtags are hoary. Hashtags try too hard to be funny in a vulgarly transparent way. Hashtags are gratuitous. Hashtags are beneath you. Hashtags make Baby Jesus cry.

Look, Adam, nobody enjoyed hashtags as much as I did -- in 2009! I am, after all, the one who launched the #pattilupone campaign to make Patti LuPone a trending topic. To quote Internet master @buckhollywood adapting a line from Mean Girls, "Stop trying to make 'fetch' happen, Rimalower."

How many times did I relish buttoning tweets with ironic and awkwardly long-winded, punctuation-less, space-less hashtags, running on my efforts to sum up themes or anti-themes of my tweets? Dozens of times, to be sure. Maybe even thousands!

And then one day, March 28, 2012, at 1:38 p.m., I read our mutual friend Brendan Kennedy's (@waywaw) tweet: "Remember hashtags? ‪#laughter‬"

Yes, I was horrified. No, Brendan! No! Yes, it's reductive. But don't shoot the messenger. I thank Brendan. I thank him for saving me from myself. I immediately looked at the Twitter feeds of various people with their fingers on the pulse. Sure enough, not a hashtag in months.

And don't give me that crap about pandering to trends. We're talking about Twitter. What is Twitter about if not trends, if not the pulse? I'm sorry you joined twitter so late (in 2011!) and are still having fun with hashtags, but they're played out. Maybe hashtags were always cloying, but at least in 2009 they were fresh.

Hashtags began with a real purpose. Before Twitter had a strong search engine, hashtags were the best bet for finding things and for making content easily findable across the site. But that has changed. Now, everything's a trending topic if enough users tweet about it.

And hashtags are unseemly outside Twitter. Whether you choose to automatically synchronize your personal feeds or not, social networks are now linked. Hashtags are especially useless on Facebook, where they remain unclickable. Even with the new advanced Facebook integration of tweets, hashtags bring up a clunky link, not the seamless click-through they were conceived to be.

Look around and see who's using hashtags nowadays. It's people new to Twitter, people trying desperately to keep up with the pack. It's empty nesters and snowbirds. It's small-fry producers and small-time crooks, anybody trying to make a buck off of this Internet thing. It is not worthy of someone of your taste and acumen, your stature.

There's no crime in joining Twitter late. Ten years ago, when all this social networking got going, I was extremely resistant to joining Friendster. And then my arm had to be twisted to move to MySpace. And then, of course, Facebook. Twitter I jumped at, but that's just me. To each his own, in his own time.

I'm grateful to my young friends in their 20s for letting me know what's hip. There's no shame in that. If anything, they remind me that cool is cool whether it's the 1960s, 1990s, or whatever the hell this decade is called. There's still nothing hotter than Andy Warhol and the Factory.

And, Adam, by any definition, you are cool. Sure, you're no slave to trends, and our shared taste in music might not always top the charts, but your heart beats to the rhythm of the night that started years before either of us was born and will continue long after we're all gone. To quote the brilliant Marissa Kamin, "Fashion is just what designers say should be worn each season, but style is the opportunity to be who you are."

Hashtags had their 15 minutes, but they were never more than a trend, and their time has come to collect dust in the corner of some second-hand shop, like trucker hats. I'm sorry you were late to the party, Adam, but the jig is up. People are wearing pajama bottoms, and there's an episode of Real Housewives playing in the bedroom. The party's over. #hashtagsareover

(For those of you who don't know, my friend Adam Feldman is a theater and cabaret critic at Time Out New York. He's the one who said of Patti LuPone in Gypsy, "Wow. Wow. Wow." See why I love him? You should follow him on Twitter. He's very funny.)

 

Follow Ben Rimalower on Twitter: www.twitter.com/benrimalower

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