Thursday, September 26, 2013

# Symbol: What Does it Mean!?!?

Good day my digital friends. I hope that the day has found you well. Every so often on my Facebook news feed, a discussion goes by about this silly little symbol: #. I have been taught to refer to it as the Number Sign or a Pound Sign. More recently with the explosion of Social Media, specifically Twitter, it has come to take on an entirely new meaning...to me. It is also a Hash Tag. Facebook has also recently taken the move to adopt it into their platform as well and if you're an avid Twitter user as I am, you know full well the purpose of using the # symbol; Facebook users do not share the same understanding or love of the # symbol.
Original Image Source

It surprises me how much of a hot topic this actually is for many people in the Facebook world. I understand that there is a certain lack of understanding if you've never used Twitter and thus I can understand some resistance however like anything new, once must give it an opportunity. Use correctly #Hashtags are a very effective social media tool. They allow for like-minded people to find one another through a vast expanse of users. By simply clicking on a hash-tagged word you are brought directly to all information that has been posted with that same hash tag. Imagine, people being able to freely seek out engagement, debate, knowledge and understanding. Facebook users, it's time to get on board simply for the sheer volume of knowledge and information that can be made available there versus Twitter. 


I shall also take a moment to note that I get some of the hatred. People absolutely abuse the use of the hash tag; oftentimes tagging every word in a post or Tweet. This is an improper use of the hash tag and even the Twitterverse shuns such usage; you are not alone in this Facebook. However, mocking it continuously by using hash tags in every one of your words to voice your distaste will only make you out to be a troll or someone who lacks basic social media understanding. Now onto the meat of what I actually wanted to talk a little about after finding the following on Wikipedia on the # symbol:

""Outside of North America, the symbol is called hash and the corresponding telephone key is called the hash key. In American and Canadian English, the symbol is usually called the pound sign (outside the US, this term often describes instead the British currency symbol "£"), and the telephone key is called the pound key.[1]"



So first, one more thing to Facebook users who despise the # symbol without even trying to understand, it is a symbol and symbols can and do have many shapes, forms and especially meanings. Take for example the color Red. It can mean stop, it can mean danger, it can mean hot. Yet it is still the same color; where is you campaign on the atrocity on Red being used so frivolously? 

Ok, so back to the quote. I've read several times over and what strikes me here, what jumps out is that the # symbol is only called the Pound Key/Symbol in North America. Imagine that. Essentially the rest of the planet calls it a Hash Key/Symbol yet it is we here in the Canada and the USA that blast people who call it a has tag, call them idiots and constantly remind people that it's called "pound". How absolutely and typically ethnocentric of us. How very arrogant.


Sure it may sound like a bit of a stretch to you but after reading this it just further reinforces the idea in my head that North Americans need to wake up and get there heads out of the sand. We are not the center of the Universe and we need to stop thinking we are. We do not know any better and while I am merely discussing a silly little symbol, it serves as a very real indication on how we behave on a larger scale towards much more serious issues. If we cannot even accept that what we call this symbol is the minority view in the world and that perhaps maybe WE could change for the rest of the world a little then I've wasted every second I have spent writing this. 

While I am happy to live where I do, I do not take for granted nor do I ignore the privileges that come with it. I am aware of the grand scale of ethnocentrism that we possess and the we attempt to enforce on other nations and peoples across the globe. We enforce our values, our laws, our democracy, our freedom, our opinions...can't we just say fuck it and call it a hash tag already?

While I sound bleak and condemning I assure you that I am not meaning to be negative but when one points out the ugly, no matter how you paint it, it's still ugly. I'm just pointing out some ugly and asking that maybe we clean a little bit of it up and I don't mean the damn hash tag (as I'm sure some of you are fuming by now or getting tired of reading it over and over again) but other, meaningful things that we can change to stop enforcing our own North American views on the rest of the world. 

The last time I checked a picture of the Earth from space there were no borders dividing land masses.

The last time I checked a biology textbook there is only one species of human beings, homo sapien sapiens, and not many, subdivided by color, religion or culture.

We are one people living on one Earth and that's all we have for as long as we're here. Let's spend that time together doing better things than enforcing views, condemning other views or arguing over what a # symbol means. As always, thank you for taking the time out of your day to read and doubly so if you felt compelled to share. Love on another.