Purple Magazine
— F/W 2015 issue 24




I must confess: I recently succumbed to the spell of the hashtag, writing captions for my vaguely cryptic Instagram posts with this verbally experimental form. One word, a noun or an accumulation of words crammed into one, held together by the hash [#] character at the beginning, hashtags look utterly, piercingly modern: fast and unremitting, they create clusters of mumblings, functioning as a uniquely pervasive way of drawing thematic paths and discernible freeways amid the vastness of the otherwise impenetrable totality of cyberspace. Attached like a label to a Facebook outburst, a quickfire tweet, an Instagram snap, or whatever one’s social media of choice requires, hashtags are something akin to a life vest: they save the fickle self-sufficiency of what one is willing to say to the global audience — should such audience be willing to know opinions about everything — from sinking into the dumb nothingness of eternal silence. Hashtags are a bit of a GPS: a locator, a topographic mark, a metalinguistic certainty in a world that has lost all parameters and thus suffers from a permanent lack of perspective. Add a hash, at random or deliberately, and you’re saved. Simple, right?

It seems the aforementioned quest for relevance is a shared urge among generous slices of the civilized population — at least, those living with their hands and eyes glued to their smartphones. How else to explain the proliferation of hashtags? Like a biblical curse, they are quickly turning into a widespread plague: the latest and most urgently self-aggrandizing in our age which is so obsessed with communication, it almost solely focuses on the medium, cunningly forgetting what to communicate — damn you, Marshall McLuhan! There is a hashtag for every topic, emotion, and feeling one can experience. You can create your own, sticking together any words. No syntax, no grammar, just flair along with the most important of contemporary qualities: a firm will to show off. Hashtags are also a sort of empowered logo. Why fuss over descriptions — of a feeling, say, or a situation — when #failure or #epicwin can do all the talking at a glance? Why flood the reader with an avalanche of details when #swag can condense it to five characters? We’re speeding so fast ahead in this direction of #extremeconcision, we’ll soon find sonnets too long to read, attention deficit being the real disorder of cybersociety. Sorry, Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

The charm of the hashtag is intrinsic to its brevitas, of course, which comes with the bonus of making Web searches fast and easy. When not used as a simple tag, hashtags are to the point like an old-world slogan, with the added bonus of spinning at the speed of light to the four corners of the world thanks to the viral power of today’s social media. In this respect, hashtags can fuel revolutions and ignite uproar; they can create awareness and consciousness, too, which sometimes happens. Seldom, though. Most of the time, what we are left with is something as silly as #cool, #boycottthedesigner, or the even sillier #boycottthepopstar and #neverstoplovingfashion. And so on.

But there is more, and probably worse. In addition to having abdicated their political power — we’re talking ephemera here, but the aesthetic and the frivolous are always deeply political, don’t you think? — hashtags of late have degenerated into mere decoration. They are nothing more than appendages, highly nonfunctional tails flourishing inside and at the margins of posts, sometimes attached to every single word of it, in a desperate attempt to modernize, glamorize and make relevant what is actually some utterly forgettable content. The current wave of hashtags is often so silly, so blindly egotistical, and, fatally, so long, that they completely lose their very reason to be. They can amuse, but that won’t save anyone from some frankly tragicomic faux pas. There is a well-known, self-proclaimed trendsetter, for instance, who marks all of his dubious outings with the hashtag #asstyle, clearly oblivious of the fact that the alliteration makes them sound farcical, instead of posh. And that is just the first example that comes to this writer’s mind. Not to mention those wannabes and fervent social media adepts who turn hashtags into geographic marks to signal their social presence at the #placetobe, at a particularly sought-after event — a party, a press trip, a fashion show. Do we really need to see another askew, blurry video or hear another quick commentary on whatever? Are we really interested in such a crazy proliferation of the I? Are these wannabes aware of the fact that, using an official hashtag at any event, they are more or less turning into unpaid publicity tools? Haven’t you noticed: invites nowadays come with the craziest and most undecipherable dress codes, but the required hashtag is stated in the clearest possible way. That’s how life goes: it’s not the event per se, but the amount of data it generates that matters, and hashtags help a lot.

Enough with the lamentations. When I read those foolish, forgettable hashtags — so many of them, every day — I keep wondering what the artist Jenny Holzer would do with the same instruments, what kind of punch she would deliver using both content and concision. In the meantime, I must learn to cope with hashtags blooming at random, blindly, and without thought. I can’t stand them. #end.

[Table of contents]

F/W 2015 issue 24

Table of contents

purple EDITO

purple NEWS

purple BEST of the SEASON





purple BEAUTY

purple LOVE

purple TRAVEL


purple SEX

purple NIGHT

purple STORY


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