At first glance, the newly-famed hashtag, #SquadGoals, may seem cute and innocuous. What's so dangerous about Taylor Swift and her pack of celebrity Fembots, squeezing and kissing the life out of each other on stage?
A group of models in some acro-yoga formation in Mykonos? A herd of Kardashians?
I suspect there’s something much more troublesome lurking beneath the shiny hair and matching bikinis.
Not long ago, the Internet was plastered with photos of Amy Schumer and Jennifer Lawrence on vacation with a bunch of nameless (faceless?) women. #SquadGoals was referenced.
Why did this go viral? Because they’re a group of empowered females who support each other’s dreams and treat each other with respect? No.
I’m not saying these women don't do those things, but these photos went viral because one-fifth of the crew is comprised of famous actresses, and they were doing something (yachting) most of us would prefer to do over our humdrum, non-millionaire activities.
But, is this what we should be aspiring to? While money is a materialistically-beneficial quality in a friend, there might be some additional traits to consider, like loyalty, sense of humor and compassion.
Am I shooting in the dark here? What about #DoesntTalkSh*t or #HasntSleptWithMyBoyfriend?
It's just as destructive when we apply these ill-conceived priorities to romantic relationships. #RelationshipGoals on Instagram might show a svelte, bikini-clad beauty nuzzled up to her muscular beau in a private beachside cabana.
That’s your relationship goal, America? What about #OpenlyCommunicating? Or #NotOnAshleyMadison?
I’ve never seen an Instagram post with #RelationshipGoals depicting an average-looking couple, enjoying an intellectually stimulating debate, have you?
We seethe with jealousy over these photos, but the idea that staged moments equal emotionally-healthy relationships is just lunacy. And if we’re not arguing that these couples, indeed, have ideal relationships, we really are just envying their money and status.
Are we worthy of a “goal” hashtag only if we’re surrounded by attractive friends or loved ones? There’s something to be said for being content with a little "me time."
What about enjoying a meal alone at a café or watching Netflix on the couch solo? What about #Independence? #SoloGoals? (You heard it here first.)
Occasionally, #SquadGoals is used in good humor (i.e. a cluster of Pomeranians with their faces shoved through slices of bread). But more often than not, this trend is about striving for beauty, status and prosperity. That's the important stuff, right?
These new phrases encourage our society to worship false idols. They teach us to value materialism and fame.
At best, these buzz words might serve as an interesting lens through which we can examine our culture’s often-misguided priorities and our increasing obsession with image and status.
At worst, they manufacture fallacious desires. They make people feel inadequate, poor and unattractive.
This is just one of the many facets of social media doing considerable damage to our psyches. From its genesis, social media has been about users’ intended projections of themselves.
From MySpace and Facebook to Instagram and Snapchat, we’ve been able to share all of the good and none of the bad. We’ve even been able to Photoshop the sexy in and the ugly out.
We enjoy controlling our image and tying a neat little bow around it.
More and more every day, the general public is buying stock in projecting its status and glossing over substantive issues. Perhaps, it’s time to realign our #PriorityGoals.