People don’t seem to understand the power of the hashtag. Not only is it a way to add sarcastic humor to an Instagram or Twitter post, but it is also a system of organization and categorization for pop culture references, worldly topics, and even geotagging purposes. In light of the discourse my group discussed in Digital Humanities 101, we found hashtags extremely important in creating parameters for our food truck data. By searching popular and relevant hashtags about specific food trucks and their food genres, we were able to create visualizations and timelines to plot data to enhance our understanding of our topic. The advantage of enabling geotag locations on each social media post allows avid food truck fans to track and follow the location of the truck per Tweet.
Not only are hashtags important in locating the hottest food spots in Los Angeles, but they also target and broadcast national buzz-worthy topics from pop culture references, dress color confusion, sports tournaments and celebrities, to natural disasters, outbreaks, and even heated political or social concerns. People want to be ahead of the game and know about events before other people do. It is natural to be competitive. With the introduction of social media networks to our daily lives, people are turning in newspapers and TV news reports for live streaming Twitter updates, Facebook posts and questionably credible Buzz Feed articles. In fact, I found out about the Connecticut shooting and Ferguson because of social media – not the news. Where the lines get fuzzy is when you consider sharing this news with your friends and followers, and when you engage in heated discourse. A relative of ours posts constantly about her very binary thoughts regarding Ferguson and at times, her content is very off-putting. This puts my family in a hard place because we have varying opinions of the subject matter, and to have a beloved relative scrutinize and bash people with a differing opinion than hers is quite offensive. Social media is another version of freedom of speech and although it should not be regulated, individuals need to understand the appropriate social cues when it comes to online discussion to avoid ostracism, or offensive language.