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Ryan Johnson, Published December 26 2013

Johnson: Let’s start 2014 by getting rid of hashtags, MTV VMAs

Like it or not, we’ll all say goodbye to an illuminating object in 2014.

Starting Jan. 1, the 40- and 60-watt versions of incandescent light bulbs – the most popular bulbs in America – will no longer be made, the result of energy efficiency changes by the government.

Once the current inventory runs out, there will be no more of these old bulbs to buy, and we’ll instead have to choose from more efficient options.

But it’s good to part ways with things from time to time, no matter how popular they might be. With that in mind, here are a few other things we should say goodbye to as we kick off 2014.


I was unsure what these little strings of words, abbreviations preceded by the pound sign were when I first joined Twitter in 2009.

I eventually figured it out and soon came to appreciate how simple and fast they could make searching. For example, if I wanted to see what people were tweeting about the Christmas Eve space station repairs, I could simply search for or click on #spacewalk and find everything I needed.

But they soon became a part of speech, a way of ignoring the most basic rules of grammar to write difficult-to-decipher sentences like #kiddingnoimnot.

Once Facebook began allowing the use of searchable hashtags in status updates, the bastardization of this once useful Internet tool was complete, and people began speaking in hashtags – though I’m still not sure how that makes any sense.

In 2014, let’s get back to full sentences and leave the pound sign behind. I can find other ways to search for relevant tweets and status updates that won’t give me the urge to pull my hair out.

The MTV Video Music Awards

No need to beat a dead horse – everyone knows MTV doesn’t actually play music videos anymore.

But the hypocrisy of a channel that now plays nothing but reality shows and horrible, brain-dead tween programming making a big deal out of awarding artists for their music videos has become too glaring to be ignored.

At this point, the VMAs are the one time a year when we might see music videos on MTV – though just short clips, not the full videos – as they run through the list of nominees.

The awards show really just exists now to let some pre-planned controversy boost ratings in an attempt to make the network seem relevant again – this year’s unscripted-scripted shocker was Miley Cyrus’ twerking with Robin Thicke.

We get it, MTV. You’re just not into music videos anymore. It would make more sense for you to present awards to reality stars and pregnant teens than musicians at this point.

Blurry photos

The future is now.

I bought my partner a new alarm clock a few weeks ago, spending $15 at Menards of all places to get something that would simply show the time.

Even that most simple of household gadgets came with Bluetooth connectivity, meaning I could wirelessly stream music from my phone to the tiny alarm clock speakers – in case I ever decided that was necessary.

In this modern world, where everything is high-tech and computerized, there is absolutely no reason anymore to endure grainy, blurry photos.

The average smartphone has a better camera these days than the old digital camera I used to photograph my brother’s high school graduation in 2007 or the film camera that documented my first road trip with friends in 2003.

Add in easy-to-use editing tools and visual effects from free apps like Instagram, and one thing becomes clear: Anyone who posts a blurry, dark photo of themselves to Facebook is simply trying to take a bad picture or cover up a fresh pimple.

We don’t have to process film anymore, and there’s no cost to take 100 photos and pick the best one to share. In this brave new world, blurry photos are completely unnecessary and easy to avoid.

If you just can’t seem to get a good picture despite your best efforts, maybe the problem is that you’re not any good at taking photos. Hand the camera or phone to someone else, and save us all from having to scroll through your dozen bad vacation photos so we can instead enjoy the hundreds of good ones that everyone else is sharing.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587