Allow me to say a few words about hashtags, specifically a handful (okay, more than a handful) of hashtags that bug me. But before I go into those specific hashtags and why they bug me, let’s talk about Uggs. Those shoes that went from A-list only affiliation (first warming the feet of the Sex in the City gals in between scenes) to becoming “the flip-flop of winter” according to an expert quoted in a Huffington Post article last year.
To me, hashtags are the Uggs of the Internet. They’re more popular than ever, but they aren’t as cool as they used to be. Which means that sometimes our hashtags are just white noise or, worse, they’re grating people’s nerves, fingernails-on-chalkboard style. The most humane, well-meaning and positive hashtags come off as #Mawkish. The most empowering, courageous and self-confident hashtags come off as #OkWeGetItYoureAwesome.
Here are some hashtags that I’m tired of–and maybe you’ve grown a bit weary of ‘em, too.
From famous Black women on magazine covers to everyday Black women doing extraordinary things, this has become the go-to way to label or insinuate that Black women have bottomless potential to do amazing things. That’s all well and good. But it’s not magic. Or, at least, it’s not only magic. It’s BlackGirlHardWork. It’s BlackGirlPatience. It’s BlackGirlPerseverance. It’s BlackGirlPractice. It’s BlackGirlDiscipline. It’s BlackGirlFaith. It’s BlackGirlEducation. The more we call achievement, success and greatness “magic,” the less we value its work. Yes, there is grace (magic, if you will) at work at all times. And when good luck strikes, it takes the right circumstances to activate its power. We’ve all heard that saying that “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” If we asked each of the BlackGirlMagic women to divulge their hocus pocus, I wonder if they’d quote Brand Nubian and say, “It ain’t no mystery.”
You’re blessed. I’m blessed. We’re all blessed. And that’s a truly awesome realization. Gratitude never goes out of style. Gratitude is always a great sentiment to express. But you know how annoyed you get by the person who yells “Blessed and highly favored!” when you ask, “How are you?”? Well, that’s how annoyed people are when they read about your new job (#blessed) or how you had a near-miss accident (#blessed) or that your fiancé surprised you with round-trip tickets to some faraway land (#blessed). Tell us the great news and spare us the #blessed.
The same way that you raise your eyebrow at #NoHomo (except when it’s used ironically and hilariously by Issa Rae) is the same way that people side-eye you when you boast about your self-proclaimed lack of concern. Expect a lot of folks to read your social media announcement and mutter “If you say so…” under their breath.
Don’t get me started on the so-called virtue of 24/7 vigilance. Physiologically speaking, there is nothing healthy about being stubbornly and persistently awake. As if sleeplessness isn’t dangerous to the body and psyche. As if rest weren’t, quite literally, a requirement to stay alive. Figuratively speaking, staying awake is neither a beneficial nor survivable practice. This kind of hyper-methodic attention is the stuff that conspiracy theories and paranoid neuroses are made of. #GetYoRest #YouAlwaysFindEvilWhenYouGoLookingForIt
There is an official #BlackLivesMatter Organization founded by Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi, and Alicia Garza. If you ask me, the BLM hashtag should only be applied to that which is affiliated with and/or sanctioned by the organization. Yes, BLM is a people’s movement. No, in no way am I suggesting that we need to replace #BlackLivesMatter with #AllLivesMatter. However, the BLM hashtag has reached marketplace saturation. From here, we wait for the next crisis and see what slogans it inspires, one of them will stick. (Think #SayHerName.)
And, on that note, when it comes to creating new slogans, new feelings, and new campaigns, I’m a big fan of #FreestylingYourOwnHashtags. Are you?