Hashtags and How We Use Them

Monday, March 21, 2016


Lately, I've been wondering about how our children and their children are going to view our photos. I remember flipping through photo albums that my grandmother had put together. They were the kind that had the photos glued down with a sticky piece of plastic placed over the top, remember those? My mom also had photo albums around the house and I remember associating the different floral prints of the album covers with the photos inside. Purple flower album for the trip to Colorado. Yellow floral print album for the baby pictures. Photo albums were a way of documenting each photo-worthy experience: children, weddings, family vacations, house remodels, field trips.

But I can't even remember the last time I printed a photo out and tucked it away in an album. Can you? We just don't do it anymore. You know what we use instead?

Hashtags.

They're like the digital equivalent of photo albums. We make up new ones for everything: weddings, babies, vacations, work, projects. We're tucking these memories into the electronic version of a plastic sleeve, their own special space on the Internet, categorized by some phrase and a pound symbol. It's funny because hashtags aren't something tangible that we can flip through like a photo album. We don't even really own our hashtags (although I would seriously have a problem if someone tried using my wedding hashtag for their photos!). Somehow we started trusting our most special moments to this 21st century phenomenon. It's really bizarre when you think about it. Try explaining all of this to your grandmother. She'll tell you - it's completely bizarre!

Over the past few days, there's been a lot of fuss about Instagram's impending switch to algorithm-based feeds and it got me thinking about these platforms that we place so many of our precious moments into. We don't own them, so we really can't pitch a fit about changes they choose to make. They're not our personal photo albums even though we like to treat them as such. Is it enough to make us revert back to slipping CVS-printed photos into little plastic sleeves? I doubt it. Although, if you're looking for an easy, non-digital way to preserve your photos, I'm a big fan of Chatbooks. I wrote a post about them here.

Anyway, I'm curious...what are some of your most special hashtags that you've created? I have several fun ones that I just recently put into place, like #heywhitneyreads and #heywhitneytravels, but my wedding hashtag will always be my favorite: #cubanspicedwedding.

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