Oh Be Careful Little Hashtag What You Say

Have you ever read a hashtag, recognized what it meant, and then had your eyes read it again and realize it said something else entirely? I’ll give you a couple examples:

Exhibit 1 happened about a year ago. Walking in the mall I noticed a poster with several women wearing red dresses to raise awareness and support for heart disease. It’s a great cause. It’s a clever marketing trick. It’s a hashtag problem. With correct capitalization it is less noticeable, and #GoRed fits right with the campaign and makes perfect sense. Take away the capital letters and it takes on a significantly different meaning (though, no less likely to deal with fatality and blood). #gored. See it? Did the image of a bull charging at you appear?

Exhibit 2 is more recent. I was putting hashtags on one of my Instagram photos and thought I’d try a new one I’d discovered. Again, with capitals it makes a little more sense: #GirlsWhoRead. Perfect. I’m a girl(ish), I read. I read books written by other women, I read books to my two daughters, I read books about women, and I read books that pass the Bechdel test. The hashtag has so many applications it should be a no-brainer. So I started typing it in…and recognized a different configuration. I’m going to bold the offending sentence: # girlswhoread. And now something awesome and empowering is being scratched from my use because I’ve read the order differently and into a sentence that is absolutely not something I would celebrate or support.

So is this a reader problem? Is this a me problem? Anyone else have these moments? Found any good ones recently to share?

In any case, happy reading…and careful hashtagging.

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