Nowadays, almost everyone is using at least one social media and should have heard hashtags. After a social media Twitter launched in 2006, the first ever use of a hashtag #barcamp came from Google designer Chris Messina in 2007. Since 2009, hashtag’s function officially incorporated into the Twitter search platform, hashtags evolved into as a folksonomy for people to catalog their context and images and build connections between people. When more and more people know how to use hashtags, it is easy to bring some impact to our lives. In order to understand if hashtags change the way we communicate, there are some clues that can be found by searching the usage of social media. Through the actual examples, I examined the differential of language on various social platforms and compared to the real world.
People learned how to use Hashtags from social media. Hashtags are now used on many social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr and Google+. Hashtags can be put anywhere in social media posts. Why hashtag can be so popular? It is because hashtags have become a hyperlink, which users can search and easily find the information they want for a hashtag, or follow the current event that had used the tag. The advantage of hashtags is to tie public conservation from all different users into a single stream, which can be found by searching for a hashtag. By understanding popular hashtags and the appropriate way to use them, you can boost your messages to reach people beyond your own relationship and increase your brand visibility. Originally, hashtags were used as an organizational tool for connecting and collocating conversations in order to facilitate information access and retrieval. In this way, hashtags collect posts for other users to view, encouraging conversation about a shared topic. Today, the hashtag system is not only used to organize contents, but it reflects how people of this digital generation make commentary, express feelings and interact with the public.
Do Hashtag change the way of communication?
Hashtag is a new way for people to connect with others and bring it to a group communication. However, do hashtags really change the way we talk? “Using hashtags not only streamlines that process, but further streamlines online communications and replaces more individualistic and well-thought out answers and narratives.” claimed Elana Goodwin (2015) in a Huffpost blog about hashtag. It could be said that users can express their thought and their emotion in a simpler way and add some words with a pound sign. It may be due to a 140 characters limit on Twitter, but when we are not talking on any social media, we may think about whether hashtag is necessary or is it a better way to state what we want to say concisely. Moreover, in order to fit the rule of hashtag or attract more attentions, formal language may be turned into a kind of informal form. Do hashstag destroy the original language? “The colloquial hashtag has burst out of its use as a sorting tool and become a linguistic tumor – a tic more irritating than any banal link or lazy image meme,” declared Sam Biddle (2011) in his oft-referenced Gizmodo article: How the Hashtag is Ruining the English Language.  It could means that Sam Biddle thinks using hashtag may cause bad effects because the tag sign is more provoking than other normal linking and images. However, for linguists, using hashtag may not be a bad phenomenon. Muriel Macdonald (2015) claims in her article, “Neither do linguists, who seem delighted by hashtags and their mission creep away from tagging and into conversation. In fact, a number of linguists see Twitter’s fast-paced environment as a microcosm where they can study language trends that often parallel language trends offline.” In other words, linguists can examine and explore current conversation timely through public and popular posts for a hashtag. For understanding the phenomenon of linguistic transformation, this paper motivate me to select some actual examples to discuss.
Hashtag as a Paralanguage
People create their own language by organizing similar tags together, propagate their ideas and build up their topics with specific groups. This is the reason why hashtag becomes the new paralanguage, this linguistic innovation is not only a special feature of Twitter and also popular in various other social media. (Maity et al., 2015)  In addition, posting a message without expressive nonverbal cues is also a sort of paralanguage. In this way, the language can help you soothe and make modest tone or playful abbreviations when hashtag acts as an emoticons. ( Zimmer, 2011)  For example,
- #me #friend #coco #night #nightclub #black #party #fun #two #girls #happy #smile #eyes
- #pic #chat #flowery #beautiful #countryside #nice #weekend
Although these tags are not in formal syntactic, they show strong emotions and excitement. In addition, there is another linguistic phenomenon called word coalescing. For instance, #dontthinkaboutyouthatmuch, #takemeout. Such merging situation may be caused by space limit or casual user behavior. In etymology, some words had been combined from various other words in the past, like ‘milkman’ and ‘walkman’. (Suman Kalyan Maity, et. 2015)  Such merging phenomena in social media are far more prevalent than in standard texts and language. Any words with a # symbol in front can be a hashtag, that is why hashtag is uncontrollable but creative. “Despite the 140-character constraint on tweets — or perhaps because of it — Twitter has become a fountain of lexical creativity, as users concoct novel shorthand techniques and spread new cultural memes with blinding speed,” declared Ben Zimmer (2011) in his article “Twitter’s self-deprecation” . That could be said hashtags stimulate people to build their own language and these inadvertent behavior may cause a great response. “#JK” for “just kidding,” and “#LOL” for “laughing out loud” are very common hashtags. We can easily see these Internet slang posting on social media, even into our spoken language and represent the way we speak.
Hashtag Applied on Social Media Differently
Almost all social media have a hashtag feature, but they can be applied differently on by users depending on their goals. By searching a particular hashtag #adulting on different social media platform can see not only the differential, but how the Internet slang could turned into a mainstream language. “This particular hashtag– adulting– which is another creativity from people of the social media, shows the concord of how people, especially generation Y (Millennials) and Z, see their adulthood, life philosophies, and how they actually live their lives,” said Tuangkamol Thongborisute (2017) in his blog. #adulting tends to be used by those who find themselves doing adult things for the first time and feeling like an adult. “The verb adulating is all grown up” described in Merriam-Webster Dictionary.  It is not a serious word but it keeps showing up on social media or other published. We can find posts with #adulting on “Twitter” every hour. Twitter is still the best social network for using hashtags, because on Twitter most accounts are public and their posts can be seen by anyone. #adulting seems can help users to express their feelings more powerful and also with some sense of humor. (Fig. 1 and 2)
On the contrary, most accounts and posts on “Facebook” are private, this means that searches for hashtags bring in less results. Therefore, the hashtags you can search for tend to be published by influencers, brands, and publishers, rather than by individuals. (Fig.3) “Instagram” is a popular photo-sharing social media, they are usually how people look for photos and how they describe their images. (Fig.4)
“Flickr” focuses less on social photo sharing and more on helping people organize their event’s photos for easy access. This platform supports for hashtag in the title or description of the photo. This will also add a tag to the photo and get search results showing other photos with that tag.(Fig.5) “Google+” is popular for marketers and business owners, hashtag in Google + provides huge potential for expanding visibility, building brand and expanding market reach. Using hashtags on posts made on Google+ enables users to conduct searches for posts of their choice and also helps Google to index profiles for specific hashtags. This makes it easier for businesses tagged with terms specific to the industry to be discovered more easily and quickly. In addition, Google+ has been built right into Google search, which means you can get normal search results and the relevant posts. (Lee, 2016) (Fig.6)
This Internet slang has evolved into a mainstream language. Except for social media platform, the North Bend Public Library in Oregon is starting a new program called “Adulting 101” which is a bunch of classes helping people become functioning adults without having to call mom for help. (Campuzano, 2017)  The word—adulating comes from virtual world and is becoming more and more popular in real life. Not only the institution use this word to attract key customers, but some publications also use such a word, like a book called “Adulting: How to become a Grown-up in 468 easy steps.” Therefore, we no longer have to be published through traditional path, social media has become a great place to bring word trends to the attention. Hashtags is making the evolution of language easier than ever.
Conclusions and Future Works
The users of social media use hashtags to connect others, organize information, and express their feeling. Unexpectedly, these casual acts influence the why we communicate gradually. Hashtags that straddle its multiple uses, including the function of social tagging, multiple linguistic transformation and mass media, are most likely to be successful. This paper motivates my interest about the impact of hashtags and social media. I learned a # symbol provides a rich playground for developing the language, promoting new words which also originate from the Internet, and helping people keeping current. The challenge for this paper is my lack of knowledge of the culture background here and I am not the native-English speaker. Next, I would like to use the same method to see if any other language is affected by hashtags.