Sunday, July 01, 2012


"You can't use hash tags on Facebook1," says The Boy reading my status over my shoulder, with an air of exasperation. It's not like he hasn't told me that before. It's not like I will pay any heed now.

I point out that the hashtag in question (#proudparent) isn't meant as a searchable marker for some tweet I'm making, but is a rhetorical device. Really, can you imagine anyone electively hunting up boastful parents on Twitter? (OK, I did - results are here.) It's a whispered aside, a letting slip of something slightly outrageous, an "oh, all right, if you must know..."

Susan Orlean had a delightful go at the semiotics of hashtags a couple of years ago. I love her description of the hashtag as a permeable barrier between what we can say and what we shouldn't, really, have let slip: "..the hashtag is like a bit of chicken wire between what you are consciously and deliberately saying, and what just happened to slip out, especially useful when you are making a comment and pretending that you absolutely, positively will not name names, and then, whoops, it just came tumbling out."

She later reports on their escape from Twitter and into written language. Two years later, I'm hardly cutting edge (something I'm sure my teens know).

1. The Boy got a 5 on his AP chem exam. He's a sophomore in high school. He didn't take the course, but did all the work outside of school, and largely without help from anyone else. David McCullough might not think this is special, but I thought it worth a shout out.


  1. 5 on AP Chem? And not having taken the course? #thatisimpressive!

  2. Congrats to The Boy!

  3. Fran, hopefully your resident 16 yr old doesn't give you grief about the use of hashtags outside of tweets!

  4. Oh we get #generalvarietygrief here!!

  5. That's a fantastic accomplishment for The Boy!

    I guess Chemistry is genetic?