All over social media this morning, everyone is posting Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake’s hashtag sendup skit — in which the pair, as themselves, mock incessant uses for hashtags across all forms of social media.
Now, if you watch Jimmy Fallon or like Justin Timberlake but are not a fan of social sites like Twitter (where hashtags were born), Facebook, or Instagram, you may not really even get the joke. Or, maybe you see hashtags but you just don’t really understand what their purpose is, anyway.
And well before Fallon and Timberlake made the clip, hashtags inspired a ton of hate overall despite their relatively useful application for the intended purpose — to make a side note or pertinent topic “searchable.” The idea is essentially to link up a ton of posts or tweets with the same focus, so people call follow “stories” on social media.
However, as Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake joke extensively, they’ve also kind of emerged as a descriptive or joking shorthand to allow users of social media (many of whom are confined to short, 140 character transmissions) to cram in additional or tangential information without tweeting again or running out of space. #seewhatImean #thisisanexample #terriblebutyougettheidea
The joke is, in the clip, partially that when you say hashtags out loud, they sound dumb. Another part of it of course is just general hating on hashtags, which has been popular since Facebook didn’t have the feature initially, but people accustomed to using them illustratively would add them to Facebook despite a lack of specific functionality. (Hyperlinking, mostly.)
In any event, while the Jimmy Fallon hashtag clip is cute, we think hashtags get a raw deal — we all use them, so why are they the redhaired stepchild of social media functionality? Embrace the hashtag, even if you sound like Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake in the above clip.