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Here's Why You Should Hashtag Your #Olympics2014 Tweets

A tweet tagged "#Olympics2014."

One of the best things about Twitter is the hashtag. Not the ironic, silly hashtag, but the functional hashtag. The hashtag that becomes a kind of metadata.

The hashtag, that is, that allows people to efficiently ignore you.

Twitter doesn't make a big thing about it because they don't yet offer it directly, but if someone is using a third-party application for Twitter (as lots and lots and lots of people, especially heavy Twitter users, do), there's a good chance it has a feature to magically make anything vanish from the person's timeline that contains a particular word, phrase, or — best of all — hashtag. These "SILENCE!" functions all work a little differently, but they're usually in there somewhere. (To give two examples, in Tweetdeck it's a filter function, while in Tweetcaster it's a "Zip It" function. You have to poke around.)

This is why, if you're at Comic-Con, you should hashtag your Comic-Con tweets. It's why you should do it at South By Southwest, it's why you should do it at press tour, and it's certainly why you should do it at the Olympics. There are many of us who love the Olympics, but there are others who really, really don't want two-plus weeks of tweets about sporting events they're not watching. And if you tag your tweets, all they have to do is mute that hashtag, and they can go about their lives. It's like the Olympics aren't even happening.

There are advantages to this not only for people who follow you, but for you. It removes some of the guilt involved in enthusiastically attending to things not everyone cares about, because if it's really bothering somebody, they can always mute it. (I still counsel caution and care regarding sheer volume; the Olympics are a marathon, not a sprint, metaphorically speaking, even though they are both a marathon and a sprint, literally speaking.)

And then there's self-preservation: If you don't hashtag your tweets, you leave the impatient one option, and that's to unfollow you, and you don't want that, do you? That's the nuclear option. That's turning this car around.

Yes, the #Olympics2014 hashtag reduces your character limit from 140 to 125-ish, once you account for spaces. But all it takes is a little discipline, and you can get the job done. (I do not endorse text-speak in tweets, by the way. You must live with the real words we have. And by "you must," I mean, as so often is the case, "I'd prefer it if you would.") You'll forget sometimes, but people will forgive you a stray here and there much more easily than they, if they are truly devoted to muting the Olympics, will forgive you for an entire evening of untagged luge-tweeting.


Anyway — this message is brought to you not so much by me, but by the Olympics-wary friends I fear most, who I genuinely believe might arrive at my apartment to stuff a ski glove in my mouth if I did not hashtag, and encourage you to hashtag, these Olympics.

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