All you have to remember is that if you’re traveling from the North Side of Chicago to the South Side, your quickest route will be to drive north to Milwaukee, take a ferry across the lake to Muskegon, Mich., then drive south to Indiana, hang a right, and before you know it, you’re in Hyde Park.
If you’re traveling into the city from the west suburbs, simply drive west to Des Moines, Iowa, catch a flight to Detroit, rent a car and drive to St. Joseph, Mich., rent a boat and then head straight for Navy Pier, keeping an eye out for any military jets that might try to shoot you out of the water. (Security will be a titch tight.)
I’m not as stridently anti-hashtag as some others I know and as I may sometimes come off. As I’ve stated before I see their value, particularly when they’re used for specific, identifiable purposes. They can be used as fun and effective conversational rallying points and have great potential when they’re used for contests or other more campaign-level tactics. The analogy I often use of them being akin to blog categories comes into play when I use them: They are meant to break out either A) What is being published or 2) What others are being asked to publish in a way that makes conversations easy to track and participate in during short bursts of time.
TV networks, in an effort to make television viewing more “social” are taking this idea a bit far, though. If you watch TV, particularly on one network I won’t name here, you’ll see that these sorts of integration efforts are becoming ridiculous and, I suspect, have more potential to confuse and alienate people than to create a grand unified conversation.
Hashtags that encourage people to join the conversation on Twitter are now being flashed on screen on TV for a multitude of purposes. Not only do many shows sport a persistent hashtag that’s generic to the show all during the broadcast but lately certain sub-plots or segments within a show are getting their own. So an hour of television can sport two to up to six hashtags for a single show.
While the idea, again, is to get people talking about the show on Twitter – and therefore in public – in a trackable way the plethora of choices and prompts that are being thrown at them are, I’m guessing quickly becoming overwhelming. How closely are people going to be watching the show itself if they’re looking at their other devices and trying to figure out what hashtag to use at any given moment and for any given topic?
There’s a lot to be said for encouraging people to categorize their conversations. But what they’re really being asked to do is, as I said, participate in a very public conversation and do so in a trackable way.
Aside from all that, though, is the fact that by so heavily hashtagging programming marketers are bringing the same ugly experience to TV that was just starting, I think, to get sorted out on Twitter. Those hashtags, which are now links to a Twitter search for that term, appear as a big flashing speedbump to the natural conversation. They’re nasty looking and hard to read. I may be getting my curmudgeon on more than a little here but there’s nothing about a hashtag that says “good user experience.”
Watch for how many times one or more hashtags begin appearing in the TV shows you’re watching and consider what the call to action really is behind them. Is there something of value for you as a viewer to participating in those tracked conversations? Or do you feel your attention is being split too narrowly to make them worth your attention?
I watched the trailer for Take This Waltz the other day and my first thought was that this looked like a pretty good movie. Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen and the rest of the cast look like they turn in solid performances and it’s garnered some positive impressions from critics and commentators I like so my guess is this would be a decent film to see.
But then I started to realize what the movie is about and my interest all but faded away. What I started to focus on wasn’t so much the romantic tension between the married woman played by Williams and the single guy she meets on a flight who winds up living in her neighborhood and who she develops something more serious than a crush on.
Instead it was the fact that the single guy in this situation, played by Luke Kirby, doesn’t simply get up and walk away from the situation once he finds out she’s married. No, he continues coming around the house she shares with her husband (played by Rogen) and says he’d like to spend the day with her and al sorts of other tender and emotionally vulnerable things.
What I realized is that while the movie on paper was right up my alley I had almost zero interest in watching such an awful, amoral character. Any guy who’s not a hedonistic asshole hears “I’m married” and drops the mic. He’s done. He’s out. That’s all she wrote. He doesn’t continue to hang around making puppy dog eyes saying “Hey, it’s cool if you cheat on your husband because we’re, like, soul mates.” Those are the guys who will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.
This isn’t about “asking questions” as the movie’s synopsis would have us think. This is about the kind of people who feel that unless they are happy and entertained ALL THE TIME they should be free to change their situation without giving a tinker’s damn about anyone else. And that adds up to a movie about awful, inconsiderate people that I’d rather not see.