Research Paper Outline: Hashtags’ Negative Effect on the English Language Online
A hashtag is an official word found in the OED which promotes ideas that are propagated in professional and academic institutions. Hashtags are mainly used in social media forums. One of the repercussions of the increased use of hashtags on the internet has been a deterioration in the quality of the English language (Biddle, 2011). As young people continually opt to use shortened tags instead of learning the proper spelling of words which are necessary for constructing grammatical discourses. Hashtags were pioneered several years ago by a Google employee. Linguists referred to hashtags as paralanguage which fall in the same rank as intonations and shoulder shrugs. More recently hashtags have been used on Twitter, Facebook, and texting to mobilize support for different public courses. The question that has been consistently asked is why hashtags have to be used while regular words have been working so well. Some of the reasons that have been given are that hashtags provide identity by indicating that people are part of a community that shares similar beliefs (MacDonald, 2015). Additionally, hashtags show fissionability in communication. The aim of this paper is to investigate the impact of the internet on the English language through the use of hashtags
Hashtags are Aesthetically Displeasing
Though hashtags have been said to have a negative appeal to the eye, different scholars have disagreed with this opinion stating that hashtags are more likely to be retweeted since they have a pleasing appeal to the eye (Daniel, 2014). Hashtags tend to be short and easily readable and the users of social media can understand them with ease. As such, this makes it easy for those who do not have time to read an article to quickly understand the message and choose whether they will support the idea being put forward or oppose it. As a matter of fact, hashtags appeal to the emotions of the individuals that the hashtag is designed for making it easy to mobilize people for action. Past incidences have shown that if properly used, hashtags can attract a large number of individuals to effect a change or to disagree with an action that has been adopted by the government. In many occasions, hashtags are either humorous, highly emotive or at times very bold. Contrary to newspaper articles and blogs, hashtags have their appeal among the youth who are more fond of short texts and brief and precise messages. Since their audience is specific, they tend to get the expected response within the shortest time possible.
The arguments among proponents of the hashtag and tweets which tend to employ hashtag as their basic way of communication argue that those who have a problem with the analytic framework of hashtags should not oppose them in their entirety, rather they should look for ways to rewrite the hashtag. Finding new means for writing new hashtags will ensure continuity in communication through the English language. In principle, hashtags are designed to foster communication and not to alienate the English language or any other language (Daniel, 2014). Hashtags only provide a way to communicate precisely and in a short period. If an individual wants to pass an important message within the shortest period, they could consider using hashtags since they are accessible to anyone with a mobile device and is a user of social media platforms.
Other users of hashtags and critics of their use have stated that though hashtags reach and mobilize a broad audience, they are equally responsible for turning away people who are tired of hashtag overuse. In instances where hashtag replaces basic methods of communication such as television news, newspapers, blogs, journals and telephone conversations, it could be viewed as a turnoff for individuals who find them to be too shallow (Daniel, 2014). While hashtags are successful in communication a particular message, they lack sufficient details to explain the reason for the occurrence of the event and the major motivation for a movement that the hashtag intends to create. This has an implication of hashtags being used as a suitable channel to spread propaganda and unverified news without necessarily vetting the source and whether the information being spread is reliable and confirmed. It is worth noting that through hashtags have been effectively used in the past; they may be regarded as unreliable and unappealing if they are overused.
Why Hashtags are Used
The new age movement has elicited propaganda that seeks to empower the people to create democracy which ensures that a greater number of people are drawn to street protests and mass activity. One of their primary tools has been the use of hashtags through Twitter (Srivastava, 2014). Globally, movements continue to emerge to inspire individuals who want to challenge the status quo and fight for social justice to accomplish political, economic and social changes in the society. Issues such as protests against anti-abortion laws, peace processes, and global climate changes have been in the forefront for the last five years. New age propaganda has defined movements powered by hashtags as one of the most powerful vehicles to ensure systemic, structural and lasting change. Notably, hashtags have been employed to make sure that there is an increment in the movements and that the rate of success steadily increases.
Though several movements can attribute their success to using new age propaganda, current research shows that this propaganda is not sufficient in itself to sustain and ensure survival, of the movements. There is a need for an elaborate infrastructure to be created through clear articulation of ideologies. Hashtags have been known to create activism that is based on logic, heightened reactions by audiences and outreach which is represented by iconic images. Quintessentially, these hashtags sway public opinions and have an ultimate effect on policy changes. Though hashtags are brief and precise in their nature, they frequently represent an idea that lobbyists would love the people to participate in. Hashtags contain a logical element that examines an individual issue objectively and frankly to arouse emotions of rage and the desire for change among their audiences (Srivastava, 2014). Often, these emotions are elicited by the iconic images that are painted by the messages contained in the hashtags. As a result, these images sway public opinion on the issues to encourage them to gravitate towards pushing for policy changes. These policy changes could occur as a result of lobbying, protests and political activities that include petitioning their legislators to force policy changes in their favor. Apparently, hashtags have been known to accomplish their objectives through mobilizing populations who have shared grievances (MacDonald, 2015). This is usually done with the aim of imparting a particular change in the direction of policy formulation.
The images and the topics that are presented in the iconic images that are contained in hashtags are not usually based on facts but are at times designed to sway the opinions of their target audience to ensure that the creator of the hashtag can get the essential support for their views. The hope of the creator is that all individuals who understand the English language will eventually agree to their way of thinking without raising questions. By nature, hashtags are usually propositions for actions rather than opportunities for dialogue; it is for this reason that the creator of hashtags may at times decide to further their interests using this medium of communication by calling for action in areas where they know that the emotions of their audiences will be elicited (Srivastava, 2014). Since the English language is the most commonly used language globally, it serves as effective medium for creators to use as a means of manipulating their audience. Companies which are afraid of competitors could pay a well-known creator to start a hashtag that damages the reputation of an opponent by stating that the products produced are defective.
Hashtags are a linguistic tumor
Hashtags have been described as a cancerous tumor that destroys the English language as it is known. Critics of hashtags say that it is no longer a sorting tool anymore, it is taking over as a primary medium of communication. Initially, hashtags were used to help people sort out important, urgent and information that required detailed explanations. Creators who needed to mobilize a large number of individuals for a course within a short period employed hashtags to appeal to people's emotions and mobilize action within a short time. The core idea was that as a sorting tool, hashtags would minimize the time taken to communicate and lobby people. Currently, hashtags are becoming a standard mode of communication even for basic information that can be expressed in proper English (Biddle, 2011). Hashtags contain iconic messages which are not commonly worded in an appropriate grammatical structure. It is crystal clear that the quick spread of hashtags is slowly annihilating the use of grammatical sentences.
People have been known to use hashtags to belong to a group where these hashtags are only understood by the population in that group leading to a demarcation of individuals who use proper English against those who do not (Biddle, 2011). The essence of adopting English as a means of communication is to create uniformity and a common understanding as a result of an integrated society. The rifts that are created by hashtags in communication are potentially divisive since it is not uncommon to find to groups of people with different information about the same subject matter since the means of communication that are used have great differences. While hashtags are used to communicate messages with the hope of eliciting people’s emotions, properly constructed messages that could be contained in blogs or newspaper articles are objective since they address issues from a factual perspective allowing the individuals to choose their preferred opinion of the issue at hand.
Hashtags have been known to be redundant and at times useless as a means of communication especially in cases where they are used for inside jokes between people who are intimate. It is for this reason that hashtags should not be adopted as the principal means of communication since they often contain hidden meanings that are unnecessary in general conversation (Biddle, 2011). It is unfair to choose hashtags as the preferred means of communication especially in cases where they contain encoded messages. This only creates difficulties in understanding the messages and at times generates prejudice among people who do not use the hashtag as their primary method of communication and are not conversant in using them (MacDonald, 2015). To the older generation or to professionals who are accustomed to using formal means of communication that are precise and elaborate in their explanation, they could experience challenges in relating to the messages that are communicated through hashtags thereby creating a possibility of redundancy.
Hashtags contain arguments that need to be understood by all parties involved, and as such, they do not include any detailed explanations. It is a well-known fact that the source of information that is contained in hashtags cannot be verified basically because hashtags tend to be brief and incomprehensive by their very nature. Hashtags do not provide references, sources or logical explanations over why a certain course of action should be taken and the arguments against implementing a specified decision (Biddle, 2011). It is for this reason that they cannot be used as a premise for making an argument or defending a point of view. Often, hashtags contain general information which needs to be known by everyone and could be in the public domain through other media outlets such as newspapers and television. With this regard, hashtags should not be given any preference over and above other mediums of communication.
The facts presented in research data on the use of hashtags as a primary means of communication clearly show that its adverse effects on the English language clearly outweigh the benefits. It is a well-known fact that languages thrive and develop in circumstances where they are widely issued as a primary tool of communication (Biddle, 2011). The use of hashtags as a substitute for comprehensible and complete communication through the English language only hurts the language. This is because research clearly demonstrates that the current generation of millennia’s is so comfortable using hashtags to convey their ideas rather than the English language leading to grammatical errors in the composition of essays and the articulation of ideas.
Changing the Way, We Talk, Becoming Paralangual
Hashtags are used for casual daily conversations thereby changing the way we speak and making people paralangulal. The hashtag has come to be accepted as a new language which has nonverbal indications that express its messages and helps its users to articulate meanings and tones (MacDonald, 2015). Hashtags are preferred by their users since they tend to be brief and to the point in communicating specific messages. In communicating, the creator of hashtags seeks to achieve maximum benefits by reaching out to his audience in an environment where people are bound by time constraints.
Conversely, the use of hashtags is not as easy as it appears since they create difficulty in communication due to the nonverbal expressions that are employed in the text leading to misunderstandings among all parties that are involved in the communication process. In cases where a message is passed without complete details and arguments, it is possible that the recipient of the message will misinterpret the message leading to actions that are taken on false premises (MacDonald, 2015). In as much as hashtags are steadily being adopted as a universal means of communication, its users should become weary of the risk of miscommunication which is ever present when hashtags are used in place of proper and traditional communication.
Hashtags should not be used in place of proper English, spelling, and grammar. Since overusing hashtags as a means of communication has a potential effect of distorting the meanings of messages and expressing the idea that it is acceptable for a person to communicate in grammar that is not properly formulated. Overusing hashtags can also lead to negative results on an individual’s education since proper grammar is a prerequisite for understanding the contents taught and writing academic papers. Another consequence of overused hashtags is a culture where people believe everything they hear or read on social media as long as it has a hashtag. Eventually, the overreliance on hashtags affects how Americans speak making them look like they do not have a proper grasp of the English language since their conversations are characterized by poor grammar. Overall, hashtags should not be relied on by young people as the primary method of communication instead they should be encouraged to communicate in proper grammar which has correct spellings and sound grammar.
Biddle, S. (2011, December 28). How the Hashtag Is Ruining the English Language. Retrieved January 15, 2017, from http://gizmodo.com/5869538/how-the-hashtag-is-ruining-the-english-language
House, T. (2014, June 28). Is 'hashtag' ruining the English language? Retrieved January 15, 2017, from http://college.usatoday.com/2014/06/28/is-hashtag-ruining-the-english-language/
MacDonald, M. (2015, January 08). How #Hashtags Changed the Way we Talk. Retrieved January 15, 2017, from http://www.tintup.com/blog/how-hashtags-changed-the-way-we-talk/
Srivastava, L. (2014, August 19). 'Unhashtagable?' Retrieved January 15, 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lina-srivastava/unhashtagable_b_5688885.html