It's time to take a stand against the spoken hashtag. You know, that awkward habit some of the Twitter-dicted have of saying things like "hashtag are you kidding me?"
Believe me, I understand the yearning for words to convey that something is so awesome or horrendous that you'd rather be tweeting about it with your legion of Twitter followers than simply jawing with your analog flesh-bucket "real" friends.
If you happen to witness, say, a squirrel jumping on to the back of a golden retriever the moment the dog takes off after a tennis ball -- that's something obviously worthy of a hashtag, right?
But so far, language -- of both the spoken and body types -- have failed to provide us with a simple shorthand. Speaking the word "hashtag" takes too long and doesn't flow well, as we've already covered. And attempts at a hand signal similar to air quotes also have problems, as the Guardian's Tom Meltzer points out in this excellent short post.
The word hashtag simply does not translate into nondigital nomenclature, but I have a solution.
It's time to reclaim the original name of that number-sign character thing as it was known in a bygone era when people used phones for actual talking more than texting.
What I'm saying is that it's time to go back to "pound." As in saying, "please dial 'pound-6-1-1'" when you want someone to dial #611.
Returning the "#" sign back to its maiden name, from before it got hitched to Twitter, solves both the spoken and body language problems we're running into with hashtag.
Try it right now. Wherever you are, say in your best snarky tone: "Hashtag, I thought Will Smith already did that!"
Still a little strange, right?
Now, with a slight halting tone, try: "Pound, I thought Will Smith already did that!"
Not perfect, but a big improvement. But that's not all.
Another advantage to reverting from hashtag back to pound is that pound lends itself to some awesome uses in body language. Forget trying to come up with a weird hand gesture for hashtag. Instead, just pound your fist into the nearest table or your open palm to add an exclamation point to anything while shouting "Pound, patent war insanity!" or "Pound, Tweet this, Olympics2012!"
Expect this sort of behavior to be cropping up on cable TV any day now.
Or, when something really deserves a hashtag -- er, a pound -- you could just do what normal people do. Ignore whoever you're with, pull out your phone, and tweet it.