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St. James Plaindealer - St. James, MN
  • Christopherson Column: #sayinghashtagthisandhashtagthatisreallyaddicting

  • Don’t knock it until you try it.
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  •     Don’t knock it until you try it.   
        Pretty wise words to live by, right? It’s a piece of advice that can be looked at from different perspectives so that it applies to other aspects of our lives as well, like trying to avoid judging a person before you’ve walked in that person’s shoes.   
        I’ve used most of the breath in my lungs since I was old enough to talk judging things I probably wasn’t qualified to judge. I’ve walked in a fair amount of different shoes in my life, but the vast majority of them have been my shoes.   
        I like to poke fun at our two sons every once in a while when it comes to the technology they play with, especially when I haven’t gotten around to utilizing it, or have refused to do so. Not the gadgets themselves, necessarily, because who among us doesn’t stare far too long at and tap far too incessantly on little devices we carry with us everywhere that seem to dictate our every move?   
        If our oldest is tapping on the touch-screen on his iPad Mini, I’ll say something like, “Are you on Vi-iiiiiine?” I’ll usually get a sigh out of him and that’s about it, which most likely means, yes, he is once again watching looped, very short videos put together by others out there in cyberspace who want to share a few seconds of their precious lives with anyone out there who might want to check in. It’s called Vine, and the kids, they dig it.   
        Then there’s Twitter. Your teenager probably has a Twitter handle, and tweets. He or she is probably “following” tons of other Twitter tweeters, too, and you’d be surprised by what some of these footloose and fancy-free kids have no problem sharing with their followers in 140 characters or less.   
        Then there’s “#.” The symbol most adults of a certain age have long linked to numbers is, in the Twitter-sphere, short for “hashtag” and it apparently has an official function. If you’re involved in a Twitter conversation, you can steer people to more specific conversations or invite more tweets and re-tweets by “hashtagging” more specific topics. Do I have any idea if what I just typed is more than 10 percent accurate? No, I don’t, but that’s because I have two Twitter accounts and tweet a couple times a day mostly because I’m required to do so as part of my job. But I’ve never typed the # symbol followed by another word to show my Twitter followers what I’m really trying to get at, mostly because I’m never entirely sure what I’m trying to get at.   
    Page 2 of 2 -     But I just sort of went and did it, didn’t I? I judged something, without ever really trying it, without walking in #’s shoes.   
        I’m guilty as charged, but that’s OK. That’s because the # symbol or several # symbols followed by a whole series of words is becoming as routine as saying “bless you” when someone nearby you sneezes. I can’t simply mention on Facebook that I loved the film I just saw, I have to follow it with #thumbs up #amateurmoviecritic  #stopmakingoutinthebackrowofthetheater and, maybe, #jessicachastainishot.    
        And now we speak in hashtags, too, saying “hashtag” this and “hashtag” that with epic frequency.   
        Every adolescent girl you’ve ever overheard in a conversation say to her bestie, “I know, ri-iiight!?” has added to her grating acknowledgement/inquiry so it now sounds something like “I know, ri-iiight!? Hashtag get over yourself. Hashtag that dress is god-awful. Hashtag is that perfume or Pledge you’re wearing?”   
        Confused beyond belief? Go to YouTube and watch Jimmy Fallon, in a skit on his nighttime TV talk show, engage in a hilarious, hashtag-laden conversation with Justin Timberlake.   
        I watched it, and noticed a couple days later our oldest son peppering his chatter with several utterances of “hashtag.” I was somewhat mortified – guilty of pre-judging yet again – even though at that point I’d never personally known the joys of engaging in hashtag-laden banter.   
        On a recent little family getaway to Florida, I jumped on the hashtag bandwagon and soon was engaging in several witty and clever give-and-takes with our oldest kid. While our youngest son and his mother were one evening tempted to catch an early flight back to Minnesota in order to escape our hashtag-inspired comedy routines, the two of us were laughing so hard in a restaurant and, minutes later, in the hallway of our hotel that I had to wipe tears from my eyes.   
        I’ve since dialed back my hashtag obsession significantly, mostly because for several hours each day I need to sound like a mature adult professional.   
        But when our oldest the other day recalled our hotel hallway hashtag-induced laugh-fest and said he doesn’t know if he’s ever heard me laugh that hard, only one response seemed befitting: Hashtag making memories!
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