The rise & domination of electronic communication in the last two decades has transformed the way we express ourselves.
This increase in non-verbal communication creates issues. When we speak orally, there are many clues in tone that change the meaning of the words. But when writing a message, our words can be open to misinterpretation. So we use emojis such as a smiley face to indicate a jibe is meant in good fun.
Twitter has started us using hashtags when making a comment. This is so a topic can trend, but we’ve organically started using it in a different way.
This famous Jimmy Fallon/Justin Timberlake sketch portrays it perfectly:
The absurdity is clear. But lately I’ve noticed a weird trend of my own – I’m hashtagging a lot. I do it when commenting on people’s posts, in text messages, and even when talking.
At first I thought I was just being ironic, but it’s happening too often for that.
In our world where there is so much to consume and discover, we love things to be bite-size. That way we can achieve quickly.
So rather than needing to form real sentences or communicate ideas in detail, we substitute it with a hashtag. Sometimes even just an emoji. It helps to quickly indicate an idea or joke.
Here’s the thing that might surprise you – hashtags and emojis aren’t necessarily a bad thing for language.
Language evolves. How we use a word may be different from its origins. Most linguists don’t have a problem with this.
Similarly, how we talk to each other can be part of that evolution.
Do I want everyone talking to each other with constant hashtags & emojis? No way, we at Awkward Silence prefer to have longer deeper conversations.
But thinking of this new language of hashtags & emojis as a new dialect is perfectly acceptable. And it is the most noticeable advance in 21st century language.