These days you don’t have to like it, but hashtags are now a part of our online culture. They seem to be popping up onscreen with alarming regularity during our favourite tv shows and sporting events and they populate our feeds on just about every social media site.

In case you’re somehow not familiar with them by now, hashtags are a way to tag posts in order to essentially hyperlink social media posts to search results. It’s a way for users to indicate that they’re responding, contributing to, or even creating a new conversation or trend. There is one thing that is for certain, is that they are here to stay.

A brief hashtag history

2007: Twitter was a fast-moving stream of disconnected 140-character comments. It was super easy for anyone to search Twitter for keywords, but whereas many tweets may contain the same keyword, not every tweet was about that keyword itself.

2009: Twitter updated its system to make hashtags clickable, returning a search for all its tweets that were containing the term. What started as an informal work-around among users became an integral part of the platform. However, the hashtag has evolved into far more than a labeling system.