STFU Parents: Parents Who Abuse #Hashtags On Social Media
Ever since Facebook introduced clickable #hashtags in 2013 “to add context to a post or indicate that it is part of a larger discussion,” I’ve received several messages across various platforms that all ask the same question:
It’s funny, because this is one example in which parents are using technology correctly, but they’re still annoying their friends. Yes, hashtags are an effective way to streamline content about a particular subject, but if that subject is a baby, and you’re posting about the baby every day—or multiple times a day—the hashtag goes from being a benign, somewhat invisible addition to a status update, to a glaring neon sign with the hash key prominently placed in front, ringing through the ears of friends each time they scroll through their newsfeed.
It’s for this reason that hashtags are both a #blessing and a curse. When used properly and intermittently (or in short spurts, such as an ephemeral vacation hashtag), they perform an amusing, quick service. When used poorly and/or obnoxiously, they’re snippets of visual clutter that force us to engage with our friends’ psyches in a weird, alternative language. Hashtags often make us sound dumber. They’ve also quickly transitioned into punchlines, except only about half of hashtag jesters nail their jokes. The rest think they’re being hilarious when really all they’re doing is making their friends cringe. Nothing inspires a shiver up the spine like an ill-advised hashtag (or five in a row).
And even when a hashtag *does* appear in a practical sense, such as tagging a baby’s name so that certain photos are easier to retrieve, it doesn’t always hit the right note. I might argue that baby name hashtags are actually one of the best uses of the tool, but that application makes a lot of people recoil for good reason. Imagine someone using her child’s first and middle (if not last) names every single time she mentioned him in conversation in real life. That would be ridiculous and come off as comically pretentious. There probably are some parents out there who only refer to their children by their ‘full’ names in casual conversation on the playground, and I’m guessing they’re roundly mocked in private parent forum boards. Really, if parents can’t use hashtags to delineate photos of their babies, should parents be using them at all?
The jury’s still out on whether parenting hashtags will ultimately benefit or destroy us all, but one thing’s for sure: Parents haven’t cracked the code yet. Whether they’re over-using hashtags exactly as they’re intended to be used, royally screwing up awful jokes, and/or churning out hashtags that make their friends shudder, most parents on Facebook have a ways to go before mastering the fine art and precision of the pound key. For now, let’s check out some examples of the various ways parents are #doingitwrong.