I’m 23 years old. Somehow, I’ve now reached the age where I don’t understand what kids these days are saying on social media. It seems like every month there’s a new phrase that I have to Google search. Which is kind of scary, but it also makes me thankful that I didn’t grow up in the era of “bae.”
I love Instagram because I can see what’s going on in my friends’ lives, pictures of food, snapshots of Disney World, beautiful photography, and cute puppies. But, there’s a trend that makes me cringe every time I scroll through my Instagram feed. Teens (or adults) hash-tagging #squad, #goals, #squadgoals, #relationshipgoals, #familygoals, and every single “goal” you can think of.
What happened to teaching kids that goals are things like going to college, saving money, graduating high school, helping others? What happened to deep friendships that are unaffected by making sure people see how much “fun” you are having? Why are goals now attributed to family pictures of model couples with adorable, matching children? Or of a couple’s weekend date? Or a group of friends fake laughing while holding their Starbucks cups? What happened to squads being a term for a group of cheerleaders? (Which I think should stay this way. A group of friends is not a squad. Come on.)
Sure, I’d love to be in Taylor Swift’s “squad” but that is not my life goal. My life goal is not to have a family that looks perfect in J. Crew clothes; or to hang out with friends just to take pictures; or to go on dates with my husband to have an Instagram-worthy moment. I love Instagramming these things, don’t get me wrong, and there is nothing wrong with Instagramming moments in your life. The danger comes when you let the picture become more important than the moment or the people you are with.
I can guarantee you, the “perfect” pictures you see on Instagram are not perfect. How do you know if the couple that looks adorable in every single picture is fighting? If the child in the puffy vest and plaid shirt threw a temper tantrum after taking the picture? If the friends who always look like they have the best time every weekend have that strong of a friendship? When scrolling through Instagram, remember that these pictures are meant to show perfection. Behind the filters lies brokenness just like every human being. Those people with the #goal worthy feeds and the perfect #squad are just like you. They have weaknesses, heartaches, struggles, and bad days just like anyone else.
Don’t compare your friends to #squads. Don’t limit your friendships to just social interactions. Make friendships that are meaningful. Don’t lower your goals for the #goals you see on social media. Don’t let those images of “perfection” make you feel like your life isn’t what it should be.
So #squad (readers), post your Instagram pictures, and I’ll post mine. But, let’s make our #goals to stop comparing, and instead to listen, to converse, to laugh, to love, to cry, to rejoice, to mourn, to help others, and to live our lives like our followers on Instagram aren’t double-tapping.