social media

Exit 243. I had been thinking about doing the same thing.

Recently, a friend of mine who has been known to read this blog sometimes shared an article from the San Francisco Chronicle in which she was quoted.  The article tells the stories of people who, through DNA testing, discovered that they had previously unknown biological relatives.  I would imagine that such a discovery would bring up a lot of very complicated emotional reactions.  My friend (who gave me permission to share this article) now has positive relationships with multiple newly discovered half-siblings.  But not every one of these kinds of situations has resulted in a happy ending.

One of the other people quoted in this article (not my friend) mentioned having been contacted by a cousin that she had just recently discovered the existence of.  The article says that this woman thought that her new relatives “seemed like decent people,” but she unfriended her newly discovered cousin on Facebook and cut off all contact after discovering that her cousin was a supporter of President Donald Trump.  My first reaction was that this woman was being shockingly closed-minded and petty.  Cutting off family and loved ones, and questioning whether or not they are decent people, because of whom they voted for just seems wrong.

But then I realized that I had been thinking about doing the same thing.

I have some views that are not shared by many of the people in my social circles.  A certain such issue has been in the national media quite a bit lately, and I have been seeing many angry Facebook and Instagram posts on this issue.  The thought has crossed my mind that I need to do a mass unfriending on those sites, because I’m tired of hearing all this crap and feeling like the whole world is against me.  But if I were do that, aren’t I being just as petty and closed-minded as the woman in the article whose response bothered me?  Isn’t it healthy to be exposed to different points of view?

Yes and no.

What is healthy is having a fair and respectful discussion on these issues.  What is healthy is understanding where those who disagree with you come from, and why they believe what they do.  And a few of my friends have been genuinely attempting to do this when they share controversial posts.  I have no intention of cutting off contact with any of these.  But others are clearly not interested in learning about the opposite side.  They might be trying to rally and encourage their own side, or they might be trying to piss off or intimidate the opposition.  But reading that kind of thing, especially when it comes with an incorrect characterization of why I stand for what I do, tends to just make me unproductively angry.  I will acknowledge, though, that I probably have some misconceptions about their side’s motivations as well.

Should I be cutting off contact?  Should I be trying to engage these people in discussions?  I think that’s something I’ll have to decide for myself on a case-by-case basis, keeping both their intentions and mine in mind.  It should also be noted that many of the people involved I was never extremely close with, and I never see or talk to anymore, because of changing social circles or (in some cases) the other people having moved away.  I feel less bad about removing those people from social media as compared with people I see on a regular basis.  Also, it should be noted that Facebook offers the option of “unfollowing,” where someone’s posts do not show up in your feed but you stay friends and you can still see their posts if you look for them.  Instagram offers no such option as far as I can tell, but I wish it did.

So I haven’t undertaken a mass unfriending or unfollowing yet.  And it’s not something I need to decide right now.  I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it.

Exit 200. Emotional clutter.

As I said recently, I have been wondering again whether or not it is time to cut my losses and start over somewhere else other than California.  This is a very difficult decision, and I have a lot to lose if I don’t make the right decision.  It isn’t as simple as, say, getting groceries from a different store or taking your money to another bank.  Those decisions can be reversed with relative ease compared to leaving a job I love and the only state I’ve really known as home.

I’m not here to announce a conclusive decision.  But in thinking and praying about this over the last few weeks; I have come to one important conclusion: My life is too cluttered, both physically and emotionally.

Physical clutter is easy to identify and remove. Put stuff away when I’m done with it.  Make a place to put things away instead of just tossing them on a table.  Throw away or donate things I don’t need that take up space.  Although physical clutter is easy to identify, it is very time consuming to deal with completely, but this is something I can work on over time.

Emotional clutter is a bit more complicated.  When I say emotional clutter, I mean things that are clouding my head and my moods and feelings that don’t need to be there.  Emotional clutter takes a variety of forms.  All the hundreds of people who I follow on social media just because we were acquaintances briefly in the recent past, despite the fact that they are not the kind of people I would normally be friends with, are emotional clutter.  Situations in which I put myself and stress myself out about, despite the fact that these situations are not enjoyable to me, that is emotional clutter.  Pages and blogs that I follow because I used to know the author, but which cover topics that are of no interest to me, those are emotional clutter.

I have been spending time the last couple weeks fiddling with my Facebook settings, making some tough decisions about who can see my posts and whose posts I see.  I have also been thinking a bit about how, and with whom, I spend my time, and if I need to cut certain activities and places out of my life.  These aren’t easy decisions.  Cutting people out of my life isn’t in my nature.  I spent too much of my childhood and young adult years being lonely and not having many friends, and it hurts me to think of friendship as expendable.

A few months ago, I wrote (part 1, part 2) about having unfriended five people on Facebook in one day, something I don’t believe I had ever done before.  One of these people was SN1604, the girl I dated off and on in 2015.  I made this decision on the grounds that, even though there was a time when SN1604 and I were very close, and there were times that it was looking like we would stay good friends despite our history, her more recent behavior has shown that it was not realistic for me to hope that things would ever be like that again.  The few times we did communicate in 2017, for example, all started with me hoping that maybe we would be close again, and ended a few minutes later with her not replying to a message in a conversation she technically started.  I never see her in person anymore, and keeping her in my life on social media was just causing more disappointment and pain.

I am realizing that I can, and should, apply the SN1604 Doctrine in other areas of life.  Maybe some of the activities that I enjoy aren’t worth it, because the other people involved with those activities are not the kind of people I want to be friends with.  Maybe some people I’ve known for decades aren’t worth staying in touch with, because all they want to do is spew hateful political rhetoric.  These are tough decisions, though, because there are things I enjoy about these activities themselves, and some of the people spewing hateful political rhetoric were a big part of my life at one point.  I don’t know.  But at least I’m asking the right questions now.

Exit 188. A curious milestone.

I reached a curious milestone this week:  For the first time in at least a decade, probably longer, I have now gone a full year without making any new friends named Sarah (or Sara or any other creative spelling thereof).

First, some back story.  In 2009, over a span of just a few weeks, I noticed that had four new Facebook friends named Sarah (technically three Sarahs and one Sara), and that Sarah/Sara had become the most common first name among my Facebook friends, with ten.  Sarah has never relinquished this position among first names in the ensuing years.  I have a few inside jokes with friends involving having so many friends named Sarah (and some of the Sarahs are in on the jokes as well, like when I got a birthday card signed “Sarah #21”).  I’m not going to get into those too much now, because most of these are the kind of inside jokes that don’t make sense when I try to explain them.

Of course, when it occurred to me a few weeks ago that I hadn’t met a new Sarah in a long time, the first thing I wondered was, is there a discernible reason for this?  And I think there is, but the reason has nothing to do with the name Sarah specifically.

I blame this on the fact that I just haven’t met many people in the last year in general.  I used to try to connect on social media with just about everyone I met.  I don’t do that anymore, at least not right away, because I came to realize that I just didn’t really want to be friends with everyone I met.  There are a lot of jerks out there, and people who are too negative in the kind of way I didn’t need to be around.  I also just don’t meet as many people as I used to.  Most of the people I met over the last decade came through dancing, and I just don’t go dancing as often as I used to.

And, of course, this isn’t a bad thing.  Quality is better than quantity when it comes to friendships and relationships.  I spent so much of my childhood having so few friends that it took me a while to learn this lesson, but it’s true.  I don’t need to stay connected with everyone I meet; I have control over who I do and don’t try to be friends with.  And that’s a good thing.

Exit 187. In an unfriending mood.

So I could be sitting here writing about how much I don’t care about this year’s Super Bowl, because I don’t particularly care for either of these two teams, and because I’m a little disgusted at the state of the NFL with all the protests and stuff like that.  But I kind of wrote about that already last year, when I also didn’t care much about the game.  I just now missed the Super Bowl kickoff by a few seconds because I was peeing; I suppose that says a lot about my level of interest in this game.

So instead, I’ll write about something else, continuing my post from last week.  Where we left off a week ago, I was contemplating unfriending some people on Facebook.  I had six people in mind specifically when I wrote that, and about a day after I posted, I pulled the proverbial trigger and unfriended five of them.  It felt like time to burn those bridges.  I’m a little hesitant to write this, because I feel like I’m airing other people’s dirty laundry behind their backs.  I generally feel that if you have a problem with someone, the best approach is to go to their face and have a conversation.  And I didn’t do this.  I thought about it, because I would have wanted to know why if someone was unfriending me.  But I didn’t, because I didn’t want to open myself up to any more hurt or disappointment.  Also, I’m going to write mostly in generalities, so I’m not gossiping behind anyone’s back.

I know that at least one of the people involved here used to read this blog occasionally a long time ago, and I know that the person on the chopping block who I decided not to cut off reads this sometimes as well.  On the off chance that you, reader, are one of those who got unfriended and you feel the need to confront me, you know how to find me.  I apologize for not talking to you first.  But be aware that I might not reply right away, or at all.  I don’t know if I’ll be ready to have that conversation.  I”m feeling hurt and confused about a lot of things right now.

Three of the people involved, my issue with them stems to an incident that happened approximately two years ago.  I talked to all of them around that time, and one of the people I was even on somewhat good terms with again for a while, before this person found another social circle to associate with and we grew apart naturally.  The main reason I cut off contact abruptly is because I wanted absolutely no lingering hope that things would ever again be the way they used to be.  Because they won’t.  These people are not who I once thought they were, and they have disappointed me one too many times.  I know that I should let things go after this much time.  But it’s hard, especially given the nature of what happened.  I feel too deeply, I care too much, and my life is not such that I can easily move on from this kind of thing and find other people to fill the void.

One of the other people is someone who mostly posts angry political rants against people like me.  There are lots of people who I have unfollowed for this reason, but kept on my friends list, just in case, and they don’t make me consistently angry.  And the fifth is his wife; I have no direct reason for unfriending her, except that I don’t really know her in a context apart from her husband.  So why unfriend them and not simply unfollow them?  I honestly can’t give a good answer for this.  I think part of it was just that I was in an unfriending mood after unfriending the three people I mentioned above.  Also, the way I know them, the role they played in my life, is one where the fact that this guy posts so many immature and angry political rants makes me particularly sensitive to what is going on.

I know that some of my friends are still friends with some of these people.  If you know who I’m talking about, I don’t have a problem with any of you staying friends with them, of course.  And don’t stop inviting me to things just because one of the people I unfriended might be there.  I’ll put on my big boy pants and deal with that when it comes up.

I might be willing to go into more detail in private conversations, but that’s all I’ll say publicly.  Maybe someday I’ll feel healed and ready to move on.  Part of me wants to say that maybe someday I’ll be on good terms again with all of these people, but honestly, I don’t know if that’s best, and I don’t know if that’s what I want.

Exit 186. The voice of a ghost singing words a quarter-century old recently pushed me to make a difficult decision.

The voice of a ghost singing words a quarter-century old recently pushed me to make a difficult decision.

Okay, I suppose that’s explaining it in an overdramatic way.  Let me back up and explain.  A couple weeks ago, Irish musician Dolores O’Riordan died unexpectedly.  Ms. O’Riordan was best known for being the lead vocalist of the band The Cranberries, who had three big hits in my late teens.  At least that was my extent of Cranberries knowledge over the years.  (I should point out, though, that as friends started posting Cranberries music on social media as tributes to Ms. O’Riordan, I found a couple more of their songs that I recognized.)  They weren’t one of my favorites back then; I was mostly neutral toward their music.  I always liked the song “Dreams,” although I don’t think I ever knew the title until maybe five years ago when I was expanding my collection of 90s music for making retro gaming playlists.  I had completely forgotten about “Zombie” from some time in the 90s until seeing someone perform it at a karaoke bar in 2015, but that is a good one too.  The third song of theirs that I remember, however, was definitely my least favorite of the three, and ironically, those are the quarter-century-old words that I’m writing about today.

I hate trying to interpret song lyrics, because I was always bad at interpreting poems in high school English class.  But the way I’m reading this one seems pretty straightforward: the narrator has been treated badly by a significant other, but her feelings for him still linger.

So what does that have to do with me?  I may not have been treated badly, or treated others badly, in the specific ways described in the song lyrics, but I understand that sense of feelings lingering from both sides.  And I did something about one side this week: specifically, the point of view of the other character in the song, not the narrator.  I called someone I met on Christian Mingle and told her that I just didn’t feel like we were clicking.  It’s hard for me to do that, because I often can’t pinpoint a specific reason for it.  She didn’t do anything wrong, but I just didn’t really feel like she was someone I could see myself spending my life with.  And I didn’t want her to have to feel like she was wasting her time with me.  And as much as that hurts on both sides, I think that’s better than pretending to make something happen when I know I’m not feeling it and stretching the heartbreak out over several months.  (This makes me think I should link to another relevant song here, this one not having any direct Cranberries connections, but it does use the word “linger” in the same context – by the way, I saw this band live for the third time last week, they didn’t play this song but it was an AMAZING SHOW!!!)

I’m wondering if there are other lingering issues I need to deal with (double meaning, issues related to old feelings lingering… lingering issues of lingering, if you will).  In this case, I’m more like the other perspective of the song, the narrator dealing with her lingering feelings for someone who doesn’t care for her in return.  In particular, I have a lot of people I’m still in social media contact with whom I’m not sure if I should be in contact with anymore.  Some of these are people I knew in the past who mostly just post angry political and/or anti-Christian stuff that I don’t agree with.  Some of these are people whom I’ve had various issues or hurtful experiences with in the past. Some of them are acquaintances from certain social circles who are just arrogant jerks.  Most of the people in question here I have at least unfollowed on Facebook, so I don’t have to think about them any more than necessary, but that begs the question, what purpose would it serve to unfriend them completely?  If I don’t see these people anymore in real life, and I have things set such that I don’t see their posts on social media, is it necessary to take any more steps?

It might be.  It might help me find closure in my mind and put a stop to the lingering (there’s that word again) issues once and for all.  But, as I’ve said before, maybe I’m overthinking social media here, but I find it hard to cut people off like that.  If you are my Facebook friend, that means there was a time when I wanted you in my life, and it’s hard to let go of the hope that we’ll never be close again.  But maybe it’s necessary to let go of that.  There are people that I once hoped to be close with, but realized that I didn’t want to after all once I saw what they were really like.  And there were people I was once close with, but then they changed, and my hope is that I might once again someday be close with who they were before, not with who they are now.

So I don’t know.  I don’t have an answer for how to deal with these situations.  But it’s something I should be thinking and praying about.  I need to take care of myself, and it isn’t healthy to let people linger in my life who are causing more harm than good and probably won’t change.

Exit 107. Not alone.

Eight months ago, I left my church of almost 10 years, as I have mentioned several times on this blog.  There were a variety of reasons for this, but the last straw was a major change that they seemed intent on implementing, looking only for approval from the congregation as required by the church constitution, rather than debating publicly whether or not it was a good idea.  At least, I always felt like no one was listening to me when I told them that this was a bad idea.  (Ask me privately if you want to know exactly what that change was.  That isn’t the point I’m making today.)

I haven’t cut all ties.  There are still a few people from that church who I see semi-regularly.  I am still in Facebook contact with many people from that church, and I still follow the church’s Facebook page itself.  Recently, the church Facebook page posted two pictures showing a big step that has been taken in regards to the changes I mentioned in the last paragraph.  I replied with a snarky comment.  I also liked every post made by others who seemed to prefer things before the change, and replied to a few of them.  In one of them, someone replied to my comment, asking if I was done yet or if I was looking for points for every comment I made.  I tried to stay calm and civil, because, well, everyone knows what arguing online is like.  But I explained that, when the church was presenting their new vision to the congregation, I would have appreciated knowing that there were others out there who felt the same way as me about what they proposed, and I was commenting to make sure that those who do not agree with what has happened to that church know that they are not alone.

After reading his comment, though, I decided I probably was being a little mean-spirited in my comments, and I said nothing further on those posts.  He replied something about how he had gone to that church for most of his life, and he would pray that I find a church.  His response, incidentally, highlighted another questionable aspect of this church, in that he acted like he had no idea who I was, and he was interacting with me for the first time.  This is not true.  I don’t know this guy well, but I can remember meeting him on at least three distinct occasions, and if I were to see him out and about in public, I would recognize him well enough to put a name to the face.  But he didn’t remember me, which tends to be typical at a very large church, particularly when I have been feeling more and more disconnected over the years.

Shortly after this exchange occurred, someone else I know, not connected to any of this, reposted by coincidence something that said, “I don’t share my opinions on the Internet because I want to change people’s minds.  I do it to let like-minded people know that they are not alone.”  (That’s a paraphrase, not necessarily word for word.)  I thought this was interesting, because I had never thought of this in this way before, and here it came up twice within a few days.

I often feel alone in this way.  My views, my beliefs, and my lifestyle are different from those of many people around me.  I know that this need not be a barrier preventing me from having friendships, but sometimes it matters.  Someone recently asked me if I would still believe in Jesus even if I were the only one on Earth who did.  I replied that I ask myself the same question fairly often.  But I know that I’m not as alone as I tend to think.  I have more in common with people than I tend to believe.  And I can still encourage other like-minded individuals in their beliefs.  I just need to do so without hostility toward others.

Exit 94. Friends or followers?

The TV show The Amazing Race, one of my all time favorites, began another season this week.  For those of you unfamiliar with the show, it has been on since 2001, running two seasons every year.  It is essentially a travel game show.  Contestants are in teams of two with some pre-existing relationship, and they apply together.  Typically, the contestants will be a couple, friends, siblings, or colleagues of some sort.  In each episode, the teams travel to some faraway location, where they compete in physical and mental challenges related to the history or culture of the place they are visiting.  At the end of each episode, they meet the host at a pit stop; the first team to finish wins a prize, and the last time (usually) is eliminated from the race.  They continue, traveling through several different countries over the course of the race, until only three teams remain in the final episode, and the first one to the finish line wins the grand prize.

This season has a casting gimmick.  All eleven teams are social media celebrities of some sort: YouTube video stars, Instagrammers with thousands of followers, and the like.  (My first reaction to this was, “I wonder if one of the challenges this season will be to jump over a shark on water skis?”)  I’m still going to watch it, but my perspective will be a bit different because I haven’t heard of any of these people before now.  To me, the fact that “social media celebrity” even exists as a way to describe someone just shows how frighteningly fast the world has changed, and how out of touch I am.

I have an Instagram.  It’s public.  I don’t post pictures of me.  I just take pictures of stuff I see.  I’m not trying to get thousands of followers, and the overwhelming majority of those following me are people I know in person.  But, as it is a public account, every once in a while I’ll get followed by someone I don’t know in person.  A few weeks ago, someone I was pretty sure I didn’t know in person started following me, and I messaged her to ask if we had met in person, since I didn’t remember.  She said she didn’t think so.  I asked how she found me, and I also pointed out that I had looked to see who she knew, and that we seemed to have a few friends in common.

“Friends or followers?” she asked.

And that was the first time it really hit me.  Most people out there in the world of social media make a distinction between the two.  And I don’t.

Much of my social life between 1994 and 2007 revolved around people I met in chat rooms.  I don’t do that anymore, for a variety of reasons.  But I’m still in touch with some of those people.  And I always thought of all the people I would meet on chat rooms and message boards as friends, or at least as people I’d like to get to know as friends.  Occasionally on this blog I’ll get comments from people I don’t know.  I try to check out their blogs when I can, and I’ve started following, and commenting regularly on, two blogs that I’ve discovered this way.  I feel like, were the situation to come up, I’d want to be friends with them, at least so far.  But I can’t expect them to feel the same way.  Not everyone wants to make friends through their blogs.  I haven’t told either of them this… and if they happen to read this, I hope this doesn’t sound creepy or stalkerish at all, because I don’t mean it that way.  And I have no intention of stalking them.  (Both of them live quite far away, so it isn’t an option anyway.)

The obsession with getting followers and not making friends isn’t the only thing that rubs me the wrong way about the existence of social media personalities.  Maybe I’m just envious of people who have these street smarts and these opportunities.  As a teenager, I would have loved to make videos.  There was no YouTube back then, and we never had enough money to have a video camera.

There’s also the fact that I am a teacher.  The stereotype I have of social media personalities with enough followers to make a living from social media is that they didn’t follow the traditional career path of doing well in school, getting into a good college, and getting a good job from there.  But there doesn’t have to be anything wrong with that.  Life changes, technology changes, and career paths change.  “Truck driver” wasn’t a common career 100 years ago.  “Computer programmer” wasn’t a common career 50 years ago.  This is just a natural evolution of things.  And making a living successfully from social media still requires street smarts.  Being a YouTube star isn’t really any different from being an actor, and being an Instagram star isn’t really any different from being a model.  Both of these careers have existed for a long, long time; the technology may have made these careers more accessible, but they haven’t really changed human nature.  So maybe I’m getting worked up over the wrong things.

Exit 60. A wedding hashtag combines two things that I already hate: weddings and hashtags.

A friend who recently got engaged was taking suggestions on her Facebook page for wedding hashtags.  That got me thinking, why do I hate the idea of wedding hashtags so much?  On the surface, the answer seems simple.  A wedding hashtag combines two things that I already hate: weddings and hashtags.

But no, it’s not quite that simple.  And any of you who are currently planning a wedding, and planning to invite me, please don’t take me off your invitation list because I said I hate weddings.  I didn’t mean it that way, and I totally want to come to your wedding.  Keep reading; I’ll explain.

In 2007, I was at a wedding for some friends from church.  I was in kind of a grumpy mood that day as it was.  I have mixed feelings about weddings in general.  Weddings are supposed to be a happy occasion.  Everyone seems to have that phase in their mid-20s when all their friends get married, and they get invited to weddings every few months.  After I went through that phase, I moved at age 24, made new friends who weren’t married, and went through that phase all over again.  Then I moved again at age 29, and went through several of these cycles: make new friends, watch these friends get married, watch them move on with their lives and not spend time with me anymore, and repeat.  GOTO 10.  And through all of that, I never got my chance.  I’ve been to approximately 40 weddings in my lifetime, and each one represented close friends who I was about to lose because they discovered this strange alien phenomenon called love that was going to take them into a new phase of their lives that required leaving all their old single friends like me behind.  I’m happy for my friends who get married, but I can’t shake the feeling in the back of my head that I’ve just lost two friends, and that I’m missing out on this next phase of my life.

The reception for this wedding in 2007 was at a different location from the ceremony.  I got there a little later than most of the people I knew; seating was not preassigned, and everyone I knew had already found a table, and there was no room left at that table for me.  Given the way I had been feeling that morning, that was enough to set me off; I quietly walked back outside and sat on a bench.  An older friend from church (not older as in old, but older as in around my parents’ age rather than close to the age of the bride and groom) sat next to me and asked what was wrong.  I told him.  “Go home,” he said.  “If you really don’t want to be here, just go home.”  I thought about it.  I almost did go home.  But then I said, “No.  I’m not going to go home.  This day isn’t about me and all of my issues.  It’s the bride and groom’s special day, and if they think I’m an important enough part of their lives that they wanted to share their special day with me, then it would just be selfish for me to turn my back on them because of my own issues.”  So I went back inside, and I was determined to have fun at that wedding reception.  And I did.  And ever since then, I’ve taken that attitude whenever I’ve been to a wedding.

As for hashtags, let’s review first, especially for the benefit of my readers who aren’t up on the latest social media trends.  A hashtag is a number sign (called a hash in British English) followed by some string of letters and numbers (no spaces or punctuation) intended to group or categorize a caption, status update, etc.  Hashtags in their current form started as a function of Twitter and later spread to other social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.  They can be used in mid-sentence, such as “Is anyone watching this #SFGiants game right now?”, or as postscripts, such as “Home run!!! #SFGiants”  The original intended function of a hashtag is to group or categorize posts.  In my examples, clicking on “#SFGiants” wil bring up other posts that contain the hashtag #SFGiants, which would presumably be posts about the San Francisco Giants baseball team.

The problem with hashtags, in my opinion, is their gratuitous overuse.  Let’s say you go to a Giants game and take a self portrait (that’s what the word “selfie” actually means, by the way, so if someone else is taking a picture of you, it’s not a selfie) with the scoreboard and the view of the San Francisco Bay in the background.  Your properly tagged caption might say something like “At the game today!  #SFGiants  #SanFrancisco #baseball”  An improperly tagged caption might say something like “At the game today!  #icanseethebaybehindme  #lookatthathugeshipunderthebridge  #ihavegreathairtoday  #busterposeyhasaniceass  #iwantgarlicfries  #cutehair  #omgitotallylookcutetoday  #selfie  #hashtag”  For one thing, that is hard to read.  The English language has spaces and capital letters and punctuation for precisely that reason; please use them.  Spaces and punctuation aren’t allowed in hashtags, I know, but capital letters are, and that would significantly improve the readability of this caption.  More importantly, though, most of those things shouldn’t even be hashtags.  Remember, the point of a hashtag is to make your post searchable.  I guarantee you, very few people, quite possibly no one, is out there searching for “lookatthathugeshipunderthebridge.”  It’s way too specific.  If you wanted to categorize your pictures of ships under bridges, use something more succinct and easier to find like “#ship” or “#bridge.”  If you wanted to categorize your selfies with great hair, use “#greathair.”  That’s how it’s supposed to work.

So, back to the original topic, wedding hashtags.  When the kids these days get married, they make up a hashtag specifically for their wedding, and tell all their friends to use it when posting statuses and pictures related to the wedding.  To me, this seems kind of narcissistic.  Do they really expect people worldwide to be searching for their wedding?  And do they always need to come up with something cute and sappy?  Can’t it just be their names and the word “wedding” or something like that?  Some keep their hashtags simple like that, I know.  But I’ve seen others that just want to make me barf.  I’m not going to give examples here, because I don’t want to alienate my friends who have done that.

I realized something about wedding hashtags, though:  I can’t really complain, because this is a perfectly legitimate use of a hashtag.  A hashtag specifically for posts and pictures from a wedding creates an easy way to see posts and pictures on that same topic, and this is what hashtags are supposed to be for.  Maybe the whole world won’t be searching for that topic, but the bride and groom and their family and friends might.  And as for being narcissistic, it’s a wedding we’re talking about here, and the bride and groom have a right to be the centers of attention for that one day.  Like I said, if I don’t like it, I’m just being selfish.  I have my own issues to deal with, and I shouldn’t take them out on two other people who deserve to have a special day.

So if you’re planning a wedding, and you want me to be there, invite me.  I’ll be there.  Go ahead and make up a hashtag too.  I won’t use it, but that’s only because I generally don’t use hashtags at all, not because I’m going to stop you from celebrating your wedding your way.