Unveiling The Hashtag, Part One: Twitter Speak

In Excerpts of Prose, NEW!, NEWS AND COMMENTARY on November 4, 2009 at 6:21 PM


I finally signed up for Twitter in July. Little did I know then how the popular online service worked and what I would encounter. It has an evolved, rather complex, language exclusive to itself. There are even customs and etiquette to learn. Twitterland, like any foreign country, has a language and culture all of its own.

In the beginning, I felt like I had stumbled into some encoded chat room full of strange new symbols and acronyms that made no sense.

RT @iThumbmynose Nancy Pelosi speaks as if she’s trying to spit out that “thing” that Brit.ney Fu.k seems to enjoy so much. // BAH HA HA!

RT @iThumbmynose: @gidgetwidget It’s an honour. Is it on blog now? / No, am writing as we speak. You seen movies yet?

RT @remittancegirl: RT @gidgetwidget: To Hoof and Hoof Not #cowfilms > Nice! And following along that line: Cow on a Hot Tin Hoof !!

@twiteryeanot @MDuette Thanks for the RT!

Does the above make sense? Unless you are familiar with the customs and language on Twitter, it may read as nonsense. That’s okay. Eventually, I learned how to interpret the “feed” or stream of information enough to communicate with others. Turns out, Twittering is full of secret wit. But first, you have to unveil the secrets.


Twitter asks a simple question, “What are you doing?” Users post answers throughout the day, “Reading” or “Thinking about making tea.”

Each user has an “@” before his name, indicating messages directed “from,” “at” or “to” him depending on the context.

In addition, URLs and links are shortened due to the limited number of characters allowed per tweet, so becomes

A tweet is a single communication. It refers to the individual, 140 character or less message posted to the Twitter Feed. The feed, in turn, is a stream of incoming messages from the people you have chosen to follow. The 140 character limit includes spaces between words, symbols, numbers, etc… Very much like an SMS or text message on a mobile phone.

Furthermore, a person is either reading or communicating using the Twitter Feed. @JimLee00 describes the difference between Twittering and Tweeting best. Twittering is used when you are reading your Twitter Feed. Tweeting is used when you are posting to the Twitter Feed.

Who do you see on this Twitter Feed? Well, a person may choose to follow people as she goes. The users one has chosen to follow appear on the Feed.

Who sees your tweets? Those whom one has NOT blocked, unless you happen to post on a hashtag or open thread such as, “#tcot” or “#tlot” Top Conservatives on Twitter or Top Libertarians On Twitter.

@MichelleMalkin GOP stands victorious #tcot #gop

I will delve further into the hastag but first, a few more basics.

It was not long before I discovered that “RT” stood for “Re-Tweet.” If a user twitters and then repeats a tweet, an RT is placed in front of the post so others know. It is rude not to credit someone with their own tweet and also, impolite to ignore the compliment paid by someone who Re-Tweets yours.

A popular activity on Twitter is sharing news and information. Therefore, a lot of news and entertainment industry folks are present. Other artists use the service to promote their work and seek inspiration from others. Overall, the purpose of Twitter is to share an activity of interest and find users and communities to do it with.

The hash tag is a symbol (#) placed before a word or acronym, making it searchable in the Twitter Feed. Therefore, liberal news media will tag their tweets with “#tlot.” Hashtags are also used for television shows, common terms like “awesome” or “fail” and community activity such as “Follow Friday.”

Once I got the hang of things, I learned about the hash tags on #FollowFriday when users promote their favorite Twitterites. #FF @pulphope , a talented comic book artists whose tweets are pure poetry, is an example.

Every Friday, this is a trending topic because the millions of Twitter users are engaged in the activity. Everyone from the uber celebrities to every day people participates. It is a wonderful way to meet and learn about new people all over the world.

One of the things I like about Twitter is you can block people who pop up out of the past. If you want someone to remain in your past, then that is where they stay. Meanwhile, the downside are the key word search bots who send spam to follow you, the most notorious bot is the BRITNEY F*CKED BOT, a porn advertisement that is very persistent and vulgar. No matter how many times you block it, it always returns.

The language of Twitter may be complex in the beginning. After awhile, it becomes less daunting and you make friends who live all over the globe. I share this all with you in order to prepare for my second piece on UNVEILING THE HASH TAG: Twitter’s Secret Wit.

The question I ask now, how does a trending topic start? Where, for example, did #cowfilms come from and what is it?

  1. Unallpareled accuracy, unequivocal clarity, and undeniable importance!

    golly gee ain’t that swell!


  2. Excellent! I look forward to your take on hash tags.


    • Many Thanks, Mr. Neville, for your compliments. I sincerely hope you enjoy the rest of my coverage on the Twitter Hashtag and Hashtag Games.

      It is the wit of users such as yourself who inspired the piece and deserve acknowledgement for helping create what, I believe, is a wonderful multicultural activity.


  3. Brilliant introduction to the culture of Twitter.


    • I look forward to continuing this look into the emerging culture of Twitter and agree the topic warrants further exploration. Shall we compare notes on an article? I do think we could come up with something truly new and exciting for scholars to criticize!


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