What's in a name, or in this case a hash tag?
Shakespeare wrote that a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet, so does it matter how Charlestonians tag their town in a tweet?
Ken Hawkins, writing for The Digitel Charleston, thinks so, or maybe he thought so. Three years ago the fact that across the country, and potentially the world, students at every high school in which the name starts with the letter "C" and ends in "High School" use the social media shorthand #CHS, meaning following #CHS on Twitter for your Holy City tweets also fills your stream with the inane musings of high schoolers who may not even be able to find Charleston on a map.
For example Hawkins quoted one tweet that swam into his view from someone using the Twitter handle @lexuslovenexus — "Got my locker today, found out my bestfriends have their locker right by me:)) best feeling ever!! #sophomore #classof2015 #chs."
He did have a point, Charleston is a unique town with a unique identity. It should have a hash tag all its own.
Hawkins' call to action was aimed at creating a groundswell around a more specific Charleston hash tag. He even made some suggestions #CHAS, #CHSSC and #CHSC, but now he's decided the whole thing seems doomed to failure. Apparently Charlestonians just love their #CHS.
There are probably several reasons, chief among them it seems to have evolved on its own. It's short, and with only 140 characters to play with, brevity in a hash tag is a valuable commodity. Riding shotgun with "it's short," #CHS is just easier than #CHAS, sure the "A" key is right next to the "S" key, but who has the time or energy for an extra keystroke in today's hectic now, now, now world?
Also I blame those little white oval stickers that lots of people put on their cars now with the initials of their hometown, or some other place they love. You've got the FB sticker for Folly Beach, the HHI sticker for Hilton Head Island, OBX for the Outer Banks, which I couldn't figure out until I got close enough to one while walking by a parked car to read the smaller print at the bottom. I always read that one as "obnoxious" because it bugged me that I couldn't figure out what the "X" stood for.
Hawkins seems to have given up hope for something better than #CHS, but searching for #CHAS on Twitter still turns up plenty of posts, #CHSSC, not so many, and most of those are linked back to the Digitel story, or are discussing it.
I think Hawkins was on to something, and I don't think we should write off the possibility of a better Charleston hash tag. The #CHAS tag seems the most appropriate, though I have to admit to using #CHS in some of my own tweets. We could always go with #CHUCKTOWN, but that really falls down in the short and easy categories, which is almost as good as a death sentence for a hashtag.
And once we've settled the larger Charleston hash tag question, we move on to the more vexing problem of how to identify the different bits and pieces of the Charleston Metro area. Should they each get their own independent tags, to run in conjunction with the Charleston tag? Maybe they should be extensions of the base Charleston tag?
However it shakes out, I thank Hawkins for initiating the conversation. As he points out in his own post on the subject everyone is free to tweet however they like, and in the marketplace of ideas illustrated so elegantly in social media there's likely to be room for all of them.