Mon06262017

Last updateTue, 20 Jun 2017 11pm

Features

‘Tis the Hashtag Holiday Season

NationalIBlingDay 1What does it mean to show someone in your life that you love them? Buying them flowers? Giving them gifts? Simply telling them? Many would agree that any of those options could be used to show one’s affection for another, but recently a new trend over social media referred to as “hashtag holidays” has become a popular way of publicizing a person’s own personal relationships. 

Social media in general has produced varied responses when it comes to social interaction, especially romantically. Kristin Bluemel, an English professor at the University, believes social media can produce and foster good and bad relationships. “If you consider cyber bullying on social media, the data suggest negative psychological effects. If you consider dating through social media, I know a lot of people have gotten married [that way] so those effects would be positive.”

Social media usage can be used for both positive and negative social interaction. The new trend of hashtag holidays are only yet another tool meant to aid in virtual communication. These fictional holidays seemed to have started on Instagram, and have since spread across other avenues of social media such as Facebook and Twitter. The most commonly used and starter “holiday,” is referred to as #NationalBestFriendDay.

To participate, a person would post a picture of a friend followed by an individualized caption, as well as the hashtag holiday name. In a grammatical context, the holiday is shared between two people, similar to wishing someone a happy birthday. There are several other well-known and frequently used hashtags, such as #NationalSiblingDay, #NationalBoyfriendDay, #NationalCousinsDay, and dozens of others.

There are mixed feelings about the authenticity of these holidays and their effectiveness. Some believe them to be a hoax, and that they deliver exaggerated intentions and feelings towards another person for the sole purpose of gaining attention and approval from their social media peers.

Audrey Basilone, a sophomore health studies student, does not believe that hashtag holidays are truly meant to show someone’s adoration for someone else. “I think they’re just for attention, really. I don’t think they reflect how much you care about someone,” Basilone said.

NationalIBlingDay 2There are many other people throughout the social media spectrum who agree with Basilone’s views and believe they are nothing but a way to gain attention for both the person recognized and the person posting it. “They’re all just bragging rights,” she continued. There have been several other debates questioning this new trend, but it still seems to be a prevalent virtual tool for celebrating one’s personal relationships.

At first glance, this trend does not seem to be truly harmful and its intentions are genuine. Supporters believe that the practice of hashtag holidays were created to share one’s feelings for a friend or family member over the web for all people, specifically those not geographically close to the person of interest, to see.

Justine Gaines, a freshman business student, believes that hashtag holidays are meant to make someone in your life feel special. “We celebrate these holidays through posting pictures on social media of our boyfriend, sibling, or best friend just to make the other feel good.”

Gaines also brought to light the fact that the calendar date of these holidays are not chosen at random by the user, but are specified for certain days of the year. She also supports the point that these are, in fact, created by social media users and are not officially stamped as a holiday.

“I feel that these are real days, since I looked them up on Google, but our culture makes them up and we do not celebrate them as we would Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etcetera.” Although these fictional holidays are not celebrated to the same degree as officially recognized national holidays, they are still widely practiced as informal days of relational recognition and praise.

 The authenticity is hard to determine for many traditions over social media, including the new hashtag holiday trend. Society is betwixt about its intentions and whether or not it is meant to gain conceited attention or to just make someone a person cares about feel special. Either way, so long as the hashtag is used to bring attention to a person for the right reasons, there is no harm in fully celebrating a hashtag holiday with someone you care about.

IMAGES COURTESY of Erin McMullen

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