Those of you who use the social media platform Instagram to share their poems know that the hashtags <em?poetryisnotdead and poetryisart are important. In fact, these hashtags help you to reach a wider audience. How important is the usage of hashtags on social media?
Hashtags used to be known just as the pound sign or the number sign. Back in the times before there was even such a thing as the internet, people used this button differently. That is where the original names come from. The sign that we nowadays know as hashtag was used as pound sign, because it was the abbreviation for weight. Libra Pondo to be exactly. Latin for Pound of Weight. The trouble with this name was that there was another important sign related to the word pound. The Pound Sterling in Great Britain for instance. Colonies and former colonies of this kingdom used the same name for their currencies. The English version had an own sign, it still does: £. That is why the other name was also used: the number sign. The number sign not only refers to weigt, but to all sorts of numbers. Some still use this nowadays for making lists.
It was kind of a close call when people started thinking about electronic mail (yes, e-mail). The sign wasn’t used before and the official name is commercial at. Ray Tomlinson (full name: Raymond Samuel Tomlinson)(1941-2016) is probably the person we should thank for the usage of the commercial at sign. When he started to think about sending electronic messages through the forerunner of the internet, he thought long about a seperation character. He found his answer in the sign that was used by Spanish and Portugese abbreviation of the equivalent to 25 pounds; arroba. Some say that the symbol was older than that; it was considered a religious symbol in Bulgaria, that was based on a Greek character.
There was one important reason for Tomlinson to choose the @ over the #. Many programming languages of that time used a pound sign as a way to clarify if text was just text or not. Call it commenting. That is why he prefered the commercial at symbol that we are now stuck with.
The pound sign isn’t officially the name, what makes it rather confusing. Neither is the name number sign. The official name is octothorpe. A made up word invented by those who started experimenting with telephones. In the Sixties of the last century the American company Bell Laboratories started experimenting with new types of telephones. Ones that used keys. Because it has eight edges, they used octo. The last part is probably a reference to the name of Jim Thorpe, an American athlete. Some say that the last part of the name isn’t actually a reference. It is just something that came up. There are also those, who think this word is completely fictional.
As the years went by, this strange button remained. When the internet became more popular, the name changed. A reference to the American military jackets; the hash, a reminder of diner food of low quality. In the Eighties of last century, this symbol was printed on jackets t-shirts and back packs. It sticked around. Musicians refered to it as the sharp symbol. Copy editors marked this as a space between two sentences. Usually the place to put comments, not instructions as programmers did.
Nowadays it’s part of our digital heratige and we still use this symbol. This hashtag is essential when you want to reach an certain audience. As it comes to poetry, there are many hashtags to choose from. The most important one is probably poetry. But there are more ways to broaden your audience. But, remember this: the shoe must fit. If you are choosing the wrong hashtags, you will probably receive less likes. If that is not important to you, then it’s fine. If you want to use the hashtags that are popular, take a look at this website for more information.
These hashtags inspired me to write a poem about. It is all about what poetry is. Poetry is not written by dead people, therefore the hashtag poetryisnotdead is usefull. Also, it is a form of art; poetryisart.
Poetry is not dead – Poetry is art
Poetry is not dead
It’s not something inside your head
It’s not something of old men
Well, it can be
Wait and see
the old men, can be women
And as for old,
I was told
age is just a number
sticking to numbers doesn’t bring your further
you get the idea, about poetry
A brilliant symmetry
between words and meter
The most true repeater
of emotions there is
the existance of us humans
underlined by creative actions
So get this idea out of your head,
poetry isn’t dead
It’s alive, it will thrive
and will probably survive
for all eternity
So much longer than I can see
Be realistic, be smart
realise, that poetry is art!
So, what hashtags do you use when posting your poems on social media?