Continuing the theme, these new search strings are leaving me feeling a little left out. Being over 45 years of age I am acutely aware that I’m not at the vanguard of the internet’s evolution any more. I used to be an early adopter of any new internet technology or social meme: I was an early user of Facebook when my kids were lost in the doldrums of Bebo, and I used my credit card online before the early Fraud Demons subsided. But now I seem to treat new memes and developments in Social Media with stick-in-the-mud cynicism. For instance I resisted getting the Twitter bug for as long as I could, dismissing it as a fad for peple too lazy to blog. But I have finally succumbed and I “get it” now.
So, just when I was pulling a muscle trying to pat myself on the back for returning to with-itness along come #thesethings. As I said before, these strings preceded by a hash sign are a recent meme that social networks have picked up, and they’re supposed to help you gather content on a given subject. The idea is this: you put the tag in your blog post, Facebook comments and Tweets, and you instantly get a seat on the gravy train that is a Twitter Trend. I’m convinced some people just pepper their Tweets with #thesethings to look cool.
Oops, there I go again being a miserable old git about it; that way danger lies. I’m starting to sound like a dinosaur and we all know what happened to them!
#thesethings are OK I guess, and I’m doing my best to embrace them, but I continue to have two problems that leave me feeling left out:
1. Am I allowed to start one?
What are the rules? Who can start one? I know I could post a Tweet containing #obesity (just to pick a personal example), but unless others pick it up and start copying it it will quickly look silly all on its own and I’ll feel like the misfit on the bus whose suggestion of Anarchy In The UK brings the sing-song to a silent, glaring halt. No, there must be a sage group of #Elders who consider applications and then decide which get the seal of approval. So I’m safe as long as I just follow trends and don’t try actually starting one.
2. They don’t explain themselves
I always thought the point of a search term was to help you find out about it, yet #thesethings seems to do anything but. Oh yes, they’ll help you find thousands of Tweets talking around this mystery subject, but if you’re not already at the party you’re left peering in through the window, the disco lights dancing on your hopeful face. Let me give you an example:
Sample Tweets returned on searching for #140conf
See what I mean? This all started when Twitter listed #140conf as a Twitter Trend, so naturally I searched on it to try and find out what 140conf was about. But what you get is a stream of cliquey allusions all RT-ing and @-ing each other and using those once-useful-but-lately-annoying shortened urls. So now that these Tweeters have had the benefit of being part of the #140conf Club and using bit.ly to keep their Tweets short and sweet, it is apparently now my job to a) backtrack all the RT’s and @’s to get the rest of the thread, b) to visit http://bit.ly/Jmzul to see what the hell he’s talking about, and finally c) go look up 140conf on Google, which last step would have gotten me where I wanted to be in the first place, only quicker.
Damn, slipping back into GOM (Grumpy Old Man) mode again. #bugger