In kindergarten, making a girlfriend was an accomplishment so momentous it had us beaming with pride.
Our parents were proud of us for making friends quickly, and in turn we escaped infantile social suicide.
Through middle school, high school and college we clung to our besties. They were the friends who bought us pancakes on our birthday, played wing women as we awkwardly hit on guys and spent that crazy weekend in Barcelona with us during study abroad.
While these ladies may once have been called our BFFs, the increasing prevalence of social media jargon and speaking in hashtags (i.e. "#blessed," "FOMO," "on fleek") meant the position merited a new moniker: #Squad.
A friend may have earned his or her place in our hearts, but the squad title has not. As #squad grows into #squadgoals and #friendshipgoals, we find ourselves seething with rage while simultaneously hate-liking Instagrams.
Why is it not enough to be grateful for the friends we have? Why do we have to blare our infernal superiority complex to the rest of the internet?
The problem, as always, begins and ends with pop culture.
Calling a group of three friends or more your “squad” seems to have its origins in rap music reportedly beginning with Waka Flocka Flame. Drake’s got his “whole squad on that real shit,” while J. Cole boasts about his “Fire Squad.” Even Fetty Wap would rather know if you’re “rolling with the squad or nah."
It’s not just rappers bringing up the squad. Most notably, Taylor Swift’s gang of models, actresses and activists have taken center stage to bring their message of female friendship to the masses. The group’s use of #squadgoals, which The Guardian deemed a calculated move by Swift’s “PR machine,” sets them on a pedestal of perfection above other women.
Celebrities are the arbiters of culture. When Swift and her peers stop using the term, it will likely go out of style (pun not intended). For the rest of us, our feeds are left with self-proclamations of digital status.
News flash: This is not high school, and we’re not impressed.
Unlike schoolyard days, when wearing matching pink bows with your friends was the ultimate form of exclusivity, the adult world isn’t a competition for popularity. We admire those who are creatively driven, financially set and charismatic. It’s not about who has the most friends or who goes out every Friday.
Don’t get us wrong, being social and friendly is important. Without besties to call over on a bad day, it’s tough to survive the challenges of being a 20-something.
Our point is, your squad isn’t better than anyone else’s. A group selfie labeled #squadgoals reminds us of the mean girl cheerleaders from a teenage drama, relying on a ranking system which doesn’t apply in adulthood.
We’re more likely to feel stinging pains of jealousy over an exotic vacation, luxe apartment or promotion than we are over your insecure friends. Instead of seeming aspirational, you just seem childish.
When it comes to friendship, we aspire to a deeper level of individuality than #squadgoals can provide.
We’re a generation raised on “Sex and the City,” a landmark show which celebrated its main characters for their differences: career-driven Miranda, sexual Samantha, romantic Charlotte and free-spirited Carrie. The friend group, although fictional, was built on each member’s ability to appreciate friends for the reasons they were different, not identical.
Using a hashtag like squadgoals promotes the ideal of a homogenized group wherein all members act for one common goal. But that’s not something we aspire too. We’d like a few friends on the hunt for a career while others look for love. Some adore art, but others would rather binge-watch the latest original series on Netflix. If our friends were all carbon copies of one another, they wouldn’t force us out of our comfort zones or push us to work harder.
Simply put, the goals of our friends are not usually identical to our own, and that’s okay by us.
#Squadgoals be damned, because we’re celebrating individuality.