Charles C. W. Cooke: The Power of Hashtags

Power-of-Hashtags

They’re a mighty tool—for enabling Groupthink

For National ReviewCharles C. W. Cooke writes: About a decade or so ago, the perennially grumpy British comedian, Jack Dee, started to complain about the fawning language that was being used to describe the Internet. They call it “the Information superhighway,” Dee griped. “They call it ‘surfing’ the net. It’s not surfing. It’s typing in your bedroom.”

“…we are obsessed with how many people are talking about a particular topic, and where the swarm is trending. But we are less interested, it seems, in what they are saying.”

This was a thoroughly well deserved putdown — the “they” in Dee’s sentence referring to an industry that was becoming almost impossibly self-important, and that has only got worse since. I say this as a techie who hates techies and as a lover of computers and the Internet who is invariably appalled by what the promise of new services does to the brains of otherwise sensible human beings. Spend a few hours in San Francisco or Austin and you will meet a host of caricatures who appear to have had all everyday words surgically removed from their brains, a greasy marketing dictionary being installed in their place. These are the annoyingly earnest types who have taken the language of the operating system and applied it to their daily lives — the people who work not in industries but in “spaces.” You don’t chat with them, you “interface.” You don’t go out for lunch, you “aggregate,” and, if the lunch plans go “viral,” you hope that the restaurant is “scalable.” In discussions, you don’t agree with one another, but “express yourself together,” “find a common voice,” and “converge.” Each and every idea is the product of a “paradigm” or a “framework.” It’s tiring. Have a photograph you’d like to share with your parents? That’s an “exciting new possibility for customization.” Here, nothing is just okay; everything is revolutionary. A phrase you don’t hear too often in Silicon Valley: “Sure, that’s useful I guess.”

So habitual is the instinct that we have begun to mistake the medium for the message and the content for its delivery mechanism. The hashtag, which has in just a few short years been transmuted from an ad hoc means by which a sea of struggling and oppressed Iranian protesters might collate their tweets into a dangerous invitation to Groupthink, is venerated nonetheless as the changer of worlds and the dynamo of insurrection. ….(read more)

National Review Online

— Charles C. W. Cooke is a staff writer at National Review.


4 Comments on “Charles C. W. Cooke: The Power of Hashtags”

  1. […] Pundit from another Planet They’re a mighty tool—for enabling Groupthink For National Review, Charles C. W. Cooke […]

  2. Tim Shey says:

    Language is a mirror of culture.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.