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.
1. #Obsessive #Mother #Is #Obsessed
We all know people who #use #hashtags #for #like #every #single #fucking #word, but it's even more mind-numbing when that eyeball assault captions a grid of six nearly identical selfies. It's great that this mom loves her daughter and wants to express that affection to her friends, but when #love turns to #obsession, and you're using selfie hashtags like #bestfriends and #lookalikes, the vibe gets very #desperate #coolmom. You can post a pointless grid of selfies, or you can post a litany of pointless hashtags, but you might want to reconsider posting both together.
2. Self-Congratulatory #Supermom
Ughhh, #superannoying. We get it, lady! Your baby is wearing a Superman onesie, and you crafted a whole story around it, complete with no fewer than nine hashtags (each one serving a #special #purpose). Everyone has at least one parent like this in their feed, who not only pats herself on the back for being #superawesome and having a #supercute baby who wears #superhero onesies, but also over-uses hashtags like she's forgotten how to post like a #normalperson. It can be a little daunting when a friend goes from discussing world events to posting about diaper blowouts (with Walmart to the rescue!), but it's far stranger when those posts are #peppered with #hashtags and borderline #babytalk. This woman's son appears to be making the same "gag me" gesture that I made upon reading this submission. I know how you feel, kid. Your mom needs to chill.
When I first read this, I thought Ashley was describing an extremely dated (to me) scenario in which she was a virgin and she and her "lover boy" were waiting four more weeks until marriage to consummate their union. But nope. I was wrong. She's referring to the fact that she's recently had a baby and isn't supposed to have sex for another four weeks. Awww, isn't that such a bummer? Don't you just feel sorry for her poor husband who can't get lucky on #datenight? Aren't you glad that you know all this private information? It may be #TMI, but Ashley isn't #sorry. She's just #horny.
4. Doesn't #Understand When #To Use #Hashtags
One of my biggest social media pet peeves is when people don't seem to understand how to use hashtags, because no one is going to tell them they're doing it wrong. No one is going to jump into the comments and be like, "Hey Patty, dumb question, but can you tell me why you tagged the word "made" in this status update? Is this a "maker post"? Am I missing something here? Because I'm 99.99% sure that you don't know the reason hashtags exist. If you need some help, LMK." It's posts like Patty's that remind me why high-level executives at global companies still pay large sums of money for consultants to explain Facebook to them.
5. #ProudMamas With #RealMomProbs
These three hashtags are like clickable mystery doors on a game show. It's hard to say what the worst entries would be if you clicked through to #poopface vs. #sosmelly vs. #realmomprobs. Honestly, the #realmomprobs tag would probably be the most nauseating. Not that Brittany's post is particularly pleasant on its own. What is it about #parentlife that causes some #realmoms to think people want to read about their #shitting poop machines?
Oh, Stephen, you foolish old man! Don't you know that everything has its place on the internet in 2016? PRO-TIP, if a child is doing something for the first time, AND it's a milestone, AND it makes mommy and daddy proud, then it deserves to get posted about on social media (and receive at *least* 19 Likes). That includes #pottytraining, and if you have a problem with that, then you can #kissBeccasass because #everyonepoops so just #getoveryourself! It's 2016; if you can't tell the whole world about your kid crapping on his potty, what's the point of even being alive?
6. #AncientRitual Status Update
You'll be shocked to learn this is the same Brittany from #poopface and #realmomprobs fame. Apparently, she really likes hashtags and regularly uses them to enhance updates ranging from smelly diapers to getting the foreskin cut off her baby's penis. Sadly, the emoji tablet doesn't yet offer a circumcision clamp emoticon, but the chef's knife is a great substitute! Haha, #ouch, amirite? Nothing like some quality #mommysnuggles after a little #topicalanesthesia and #weeweewhacking. Hashtag #blessed, hashtag #mommylife, hashtag #byebyeforeskin. Something tells me Brittany's got an unlimited # of #hashtags in her future, and all of them are equally #terrible.