Those who know me well, know I hated hashtags not too long ago. Something about the way people used them just rubbed me the wrong way. I guess I never really understood the use of them because truthfully, the people I saw using them on Instagram (I don’t have Twitter) were using them to try to be funny, but usually just ended up being mean. And I wasn’t cool with that. It made me uncomfortable, and a little sad. Without getting deep into the issues I dealt with, with former friends and their affinity for mean hashtags, I will say that I judged the use of the hashtag prematurely. My former use of hashtags was to write the word ‘hashtag’ before things instead of the ever popular ‘#’. Oh how funny I thought I was being. Can’t just be like everyone else, can you Sara? Of course not.

But alas, fast forward to this day, and many will probably say I hashtag too much. There is no happy mediums in life, don’t you know? But alas, I have given up caring what others may deem acceptable for the things I choose to do in my life. So I hashtag. Now also, I have come to the conclusion that I am not that funny. I have my father and sister’s sense of humour and wit, but to be honest, they have both always been much funnier than I. So I do not hashtag to make jokes often, and I certainly do not hashtag to make fun of others. I hashtag to share my pictures with the world.

Now before you go thinking that I am dying for ‘likes’ and basing my self worth on how many people like my pictures or follow me, I want to explain. I am not going to lie and say that I do not enjoy that people are liking my photos. I wouldn’t be hashtagging if I didn’t enjoy it at all. But it is more than just the satisfaction of having a certain amount of likes, as I have been enjoying the ability to share my pictures with other people here in the Yukon, and almost feel like a part of a community of others who enjoy the same thing. I have been lucky enough to have picked up a few photography skills from dating a talented photographer for awhile, as well as being someone who is able to pick up things quite easily in general. So I feel proud when I am able to capture the views and the moments of my life so perfectly, so accurately, that I can’t help but want to share them with my friends, fellow travellers, and adventurers.

I started hashtagging with a purpose on my drive through Canada, using the #explore_____, filling in the blank with whatever province the picture was taken in. I found it fascinating to look through the hashtag and see others doing similar trips, and taking photos from similar vantage points as I, but coming up with different ways of presenting it. I have always enjoyed travel photography, being a traveler myself, and I started following all kinds of Canadian Instagram feeds who feature other people’s photos taken in Canada, as well as travel photography feeds. The world is such a beautiful place, it’s amazing the pictures that you see on these feeds. So that’s when I started hashtagging even more…

Since I got here, I have had a silly goal with my Instagram and hashtags. I really wanted one of my pictures to be featured on the Travel Yukon Instagram feed. For no other reason than the satisfaction of my pictures being worthy. It’s silly I know, but being confident in my amateur photography skills, and seeing the pictures posted daily, I figured it wouldn’t be a hard thing to do. But alas, it has yet to happen. My theory was that they didn’t post them because I refuse to make my travel photos square, always making the whole picture visible through the pic frame app. But that theory was debunked recently. Perhaps they just don’t like my photos? Meanwhile, I have had my northern lights photos reposted by Moose Knuckles (because I was wearing a Moose Knuckle jacket in the picture and tagged it), as well as Air North. I have had a few of my random Yukon photos reposted by Canadian Instagram accounts, and even won a photo challenge the other day with Flight Hub; though I was never told which photo actually won me the contest, they said they really enjoyed all the ones I tagged for it. So hashtagging won me $100 credit for flights, can I really complain about it now?

Some of my photos featured on other Instagram accounts

Oh and side note, last year I went to Costa Rica with Student Trip, because I won their ‘Social Media Guy’ contest, where I hashtagged pictures with #socialmediaguy and my picture of me holding a crocodile by the tail in Thailand was chosen as a semi-finalist and through social media, my lovely friends friends helped me by voting and got me into the finals. My awesome interviewing skills got me the grand prize though. I was lucky enough to experience a trip as a Team Leader with Student Trip, and meet some amazing 17-18 year old students who were on their March Break Grad trip. It may not have been how I pictured going to Costa Rica, but it was an experience I will never forget. And all because I hashtagged my pictures.

I don’t claim to be a photographer. I honestly don’t think my photos are near the skills of the real photographers I see on Instagram every day. And I am not trying to be one. I don’t plan to sell my images, or try to make a living by doing it at all. I just enjoy taking photos of the places I go, or people I am with. And then I enjoy sharing them, for others to get a glimpse of the amazing things I am lucky enough to see in my life.

So you can see now why I am enjoying the use of hashtags. Being a part of a community of travellers, adventurers, and fellow photo sharing people, is kind of a wonderful thing. Through the use of hashtags in recent months, I have learned the ways in which to use social media in more positive ways. In the past, I had a few struggles with the negativity surrounding the use of social media, whether it be in friendships or relationships, and I wanted to distance myself from any unnecessary negativity in my life. Hashtagging and sharing my photos is just one of the ways I have reclaimed my social media for a better purpose, and so long as I am always aware that the number of ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ isn’t a reflection of who I am or how awesome of a person I am (let’s be honest, those who know me should know by now that I do not need ‘likes’ to know how awesome I am, my confidence, bordering on cockiness, has never been much of a problem) then I can’t see it ever being a problem to want to share my photos, and have my photos featured, and continue capturing my life on film (or on SD cards as it may be).

So my friends, I say hashtag away, so long as you aren’t using it as a means to bring others down. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to share your life, or your photos of your life as it may be, with other people. Social media has a way of connecting you with other like minded people, there’s no reason why you can’t have some fun with it and enjoy that connection.

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