Friday, June 6, 2014

hashtags, dog fur, and grammar

Betcha forgot all about my ancient Q&A post and how I'm not even close to having answered all the questions yet, didn'tcha? Well, no worries. I didn't forget. It's been weighing heavily on my heart...the probing questions gone unanswered?!? How will everyone sleep at night?!?! Okay, not really. But it is nice to know that the spreadsheet o' questions is just sitting right there, waiting to help me out on a day of writer's block!

There probably won't be any particular theme to today's questions...we'll just see which way the wind blows.

Megan asked:

How do you feel about the use of hashtags? I started using them ironically as a way to embarrass my stepson / make fun of my students, but now they're kind of thing for me.

Well, be honest, I kinda hate the ironic use of hashtags. I think they had their moment, but it's in the past now. I don't mine the appropriate use of hashtags, though. When they serve the purpose that they were originally designed for-- they're perfectly fine. But only in moderation. For instance, I follow a number of beauty and makeup bloggers on Instagram (and they all have about a billion followers, so I seriously doubt they'll mind me calling them out here. Clearly they're doing just fine despite me rolling my eyes at them.). I don't know what it is, but beauty bloggers just looooooooove to use a freaking abundance of hashtags on every single picture. Some of them are what I would deem functional hashtags: the brand names of the makeup they're wearing (#urbandecay or #loracpropalette) or things like #eyeshadowtutorial (if they included a description/tutorial in their photo comment)...those are things that interested parties (like me!) will actually click on to see OTHER pictures that are in those categories. Very useful. But then the other 52 hashtags that are like #fridayfunday #pretty #eyes #beauty and so on and so forth? No. Just stop. No one's clicking on those to see what a billion other random people are saying about #eyes. Or at least I'm not. So therefore they shouldn't do it, because my opinion is the most important.

In summary:

Useful Hashtags that I Don't Roll My Eyes At: television show names, wedding (or other) events (SUPER helpful so that you can see lots of pictures from people that aren't necessarily your personal friends!), brand names, specific things that people care about and may legitimately want to search

Hashtags I Roll My Eyes At: pretty much any generic adjective (#lovely, #happy, #yummy), stupid things like #followme and #instawow, and the ubiquitous and waaaaaaaaay overused #soblessed. Please. No.

PS. If you happen to use the hashtags that I have deemed eye-roll-worthy and you like them, I encourage you to keep doing it without an ounce of guilt or worry. This is just my opinion, not the Word of God and Law of the Land...take it for what it's worth-- probably not much.


Tamara asked:

My question is do you have a hard time keeping a clean house with Lola? As an owner of two big black fur babies, I feel like it’s impossible to keep my house clean.

Well Tamara, the truth is, our live-in housekeeper is so efficient vacuuming up the fur, I hardly even notice it!! Oh wait. Sorry. That's in my fantasy world. In REAL LIFE...holy cow. My faux-wood floors are perpetually buried under a small mountain of black fur. Especially in the UGH. I wish I had great tips, but basically we just resign ourselves to vacuuming up the tumbleweeds of dog fur a couple times a week and tell ourselves that she's worth it. When it comes down to it, the benefits of having the Lola outweigh the benefits of having a perfectly clean house, so I try to remember that and just roll my eyes at the dog fur. And vacuum it up again. And again.

(There's a lot of eye rolling going on today, eh?)

PS. In the interest of uniting questions 1 and 2, I must add that Tamara introduced me to one of my FAVORITE instagram hashtags: #labsofinstagram. I will click that EVERY time because hello-- a constantly-updated string of adorable lab pictures? COME TO MAMA.


Amanda J. asked:

Dear Erika,

How do I correct the grammar of my loved ones without sounding like a huge jerk?

Judgmental Grammar Nazi

Alright. This is clearly something I deal with myself, so you came to the right place, Amanda. We're going to have to break this down into two Correcting Categories, though: Out Loud/Speaking Grammar and Written Grammar.

If you're chatting in person with someone and they display some heinous grammar (which honestly, happens much less frequently than in writing...most adult native American-English speakers do just fine speaking)...I would pretty much never correct it. I can't think of any way that it would NOT come off as incredibly obnoxious. I mean, unless they're asking hey, is it _____ or should I say _____? which case, of course, weigh in. But to just jump in with a tip about subject-verb agreement? Don't. I could think of exceptions, of course: if the person is a child (that you know well), a gentle re-stating of a sentence is probably fine. If the person is an English language learner that has previously asked or mentioned that they're wanting help with their spoken English, it could be appropriate. But basically...I never correct people's spoken grammar.

Obviously, intervention-requiring written grammar is much more common. But you're just as likely to look like a jerk if you don't tread lightly. I would pretty much never recommend directly calling out someone's error (the exception being if they are someone you know extremely well who you know would WANT to know about an error. People call out my mistakes and/or typos all the time and I 100% appreciate it. I want to know better and do better, so I never mind someone pointing out something erroneous). I feel a passive-aggressive approach can be quite effective when dealing with grammar mistakes. For instance, you can write a blog post on a very specific error, providing lots of right and wrong examples, and share it all over social media in hopes that the offending party(ies) will see it and read it. Now, what's probably more likely is that the only people who will think "oooh! A grammar blog post!! Let me click over here and read!!" are other grammar aficionados, so you're kinda just going to be preaching to the choir, but...still. It's worth a try. You could also do a similar (but shorter) tutorial right there in your Facebook status or whatever. If you are good friends with the offender AND they have a good sense of humor, you could try gently drawing attention to their mistake- I've seen (but not personally done) this before and it seemed to be effective and not too offensive:

(pretend this is a FB status): The Smith's are moving to California!!
Grammar Nazi comments: Who is the Smith? I am really going to miss him!! ;)
Original poster: Haha what? I never know what to do with apostrophes!! 
GN: I know, they're stupid. You can just say 'the Smiths.' You're not possessing anything in this sentence, so you don't need any apostrophes. We're really going to miss you guys though!!

That's probably a best case scenario. If I were someone just reading through that exchange, I probably wouldn't think the GN was being a jerk, especially if I knew that he and the original poster were good friends. In a perfect world, ol' Smith would then go and edit his status so as not to offend future readers.

At the end of the day, though, you just have to accept that there are two kinds of people in the world: People Who Care About Grammar and People Who Don't. The PWD aren't bad people. They're not trying to hurt and offend the PWCAG. And so if they manage to make it to the ripe old age of 70 and still don't know how to use apostrophes and commas but they do have a number of other redeeming qualities...just let it go. You can't save them all. But if they also incorrectly use hashtags, then you're really going to have to make a judgment call and intervene about ONE of those issues. I really can't let my eyes be accosted by bad grammar and unnecessary hashtags at the same time. It's too much


  1. ha!!!! I never appreciated hashtags until recently. I realized there is a purpose besides a punch line. It's interesting when you want to look up a specific topic like #braincancer or #headforthecure. Helped me at least :)

  2. I too appreciate a good hastag but I don't get the 39483 ones for one picture!

    I didn't realize how good we had it when we just had one dog who had hair and didn't shed. Now the german shepherd's hair is everywhereeeeee.

    #happy #weekend #friend :)

  3. Wait! Hashtags have a PURPOSE?!?! I had no idea! Seriously, I thought the whole thing was #winning #SundayFunday #lookhowcute and the egregious #myhusbandisthebestdaddyever... ummmm, should I know what that says?!?!? I had no idea that you're supposed to CLICK on them... what??? This is obviously a failing on my part because I don't have instagram or twitter.

    Speaking of instagram... did you change out your outdoor light fixture? I think I saw that flash by while reading! Looks AWESOME! We're contemplating the same!

  4. My favorite hashtags are from those people who use them to "secretly" tell us how they really feel. Like posting a picture of some shenanigan their kids are getting into, then including #mamaneedsadrink, #justkidding #noreallybringmeadrink Obviously they are not using them correctly, but sometimes they make me laugh. :)

  5. I am with Amanda on this, I had no idea you click on them! I do have instagram but I only have my sisters and step-kids on there so I don't use it very much. Obviously, the step-kids to keep up with what they are doing and my family just because. What annoys me is when it is used over and over on TV for something. On the other topic, I am terrible with grammar so I can't say much there.

  6. You mean: People Who Care About Grammar and People Who Don't (as opposed to a People That Care...). That's the preferred form for introducing an essential clause when the subject is a person or people. ;)

    Grammar Grrrrl

    1. Ha!! Exhibit A! Thank you, Grammar Grrrrl! I'm going to pretend that I did that on purpose to see who would catch it, so congrats!! ;) (No, for real it was just wrong. No good excuses. But I will update it now!)

  7. You keep rolling your eyes like that and they're going to stick. I'm just saying. #momlies

    Hashtags are kind of new for me. I had NO idea what they were and why people kept putting a pound sign in front of random words for the longest time until I started using Instagram. I try not to use them too much because they can get annoying...and quite frankly, I'm just not cool enough to use them regularly. But you know my favorite thing about them? Jimmy Fallon's hashtag skit with JT -- love it! Please look for it on You Tube if you haven't seen it yet.

    Hope y'all have a great weekend! #TGIF

  8. HAHA, so that's what a hashtag does?! I would have never known if it weren't for you! I've done one hashtag ever and it was soley because our marketing department at work asked me to add it to my instagram post. I didn't realize that's what it did! Hilarious! However, I will now be waiting anxiously for the next #labsofinstagram. XOX

  9. So, in your opinion, the following would be good or bad approaches:

    1. I get a Christmas card from "the Smith's." Then I take a red pen, cross out the apostrophe, and mail it back to them.

    2. I see a facebook status that says "the Smith's" are having a great weekend. Then I simply comment with, "Dislike."

  10. I can spend hours getting lost in hashtag land! Once I finally figured out that it does link to other posts I was hooked! Glad I could introduce you to #labsofinstagram, it is pretty much the best ever :) And thank you for answering my question! I too agree having Remi and Moose far outweigh the hair issues in my house. Although I think I might try vacuuming THEM sometime soon...

  11. #howcouldyouforgettomentionhashtagssentenceslikethisthataretotallyimpossibletoread?

    YES on dog hair. Totally the bane of my existence! I feel like I could become a super millionaire by solving this... I tried the Furminator, and it does help (a little), but really I'm at the mercy of whatever season it is. The funny thing is that I have a Golden Retriever, so most people assume he is the shedder, but really it's my other dog (Jack Russell/English Pointer mix, we think) who is the real culprit. Short white hairs on EVERYTHING. I can't take it! I'm impressed that you vacuum several times per week... I can barely commit to once a week, so by Saturday it's just hairball city all over the hardwood. If I have guests during the week I just dry mop it quickly. And don't even get me started on my car. Let's invent something to solve this! I'm telling you, we'd strike gold!

    Whenever it's inappropriate to correct someone's written grammar, I pacify my disdain by sending it around to my little group of "grammar buddies" - people who care and who can laugh about it with me. Sure, we aren't helping to solve the problem, but at least we can commiserate with one another. Maybe it isn't nice to talk behind other people's backs like that... but... oh well. You do what you can.

  12. The Smith's are idiots, and I just feel like it's our duty to inform the of that… is that so wrong?

    Ha ha but thanks for the input, passive aggressive is always a good approach in my book!

  13. Haha. Love your answers to all of these. I use hashtags but the pictures with fifty million hashtags are really annoying. And i hate the random #pretty #eyes #lips ones. Makes no sense! I mostly use them the way they were intended, like ones i will actually click on.

    I'm with you - i definitely never correct anyone if they speak in bad grammar! And i don't think i ever have on FB or anything either... except posting pictures of examples of bad grammar ("employee's only") & i hope the people who don't care will see and see how ridiculous it looks. But i guess if they don't care, they will just keep scrolling! Haha. One thing that i really hate is words being misspelled... or their/theyre/there or lose/loose. I may or may not have corrected those, but i try to do it in a humorous way.

  14. Wow! I've never known how to use hashtags, unless it was really obvious like when I participated in that February thing on Instagram. (Which was so very important in my life that I don't even remember what the hashtag was.) I just figured everyone was making up their own, so I did too! Ha! What a hashtag newbie I am. Oh well...

    I did know that you could click on them and see a million other posts if other people had used the same hashtag though.

    Also, yes, grammar. Ugh. (Sorry, just thinking about really bad grammar renders me speechless.)

    My one exception to correcting the bad grammar of kids is when it's your own child and their misuse of grammar is too cute to correct. For instance, Rachel always asks, "Please, I can have more ______?" I hope she is still saying that in her super-sweet voice when she's sixteen. "Please, I can borrow the car tonight, Mommy???"

    Also, I'm always really nervous to publish a comment on your blog, especially one about grammar, because I feel like it might have fifteen grammatical errors and that would be too embarrassing!

  15. I'm pretty sure that I fall under the PWD category. I'm aware of it, and I'm constantly looking for a college class that I can take for free that will help me out in this area. My problem is that I can write a competent sentence and use the correct punctuation, but I couldn't tell you WHY it's okay or even dream of diagramming a sentence. I'm sure I fail miserably all the time, but at least now I have editors who fix that problem for me in my more important, uh, venues.


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