Let’s talk about goals. No, not your goals to wake up earlier or eat healthier. Not your education goals to make it to all your 8 AM classes on time or make the Dean’s List. Not your career goals of landing the internship of your dreams or securing a job before you graduate. Instead, let’s talk about #goals. You know, the caption you’ve seen on countless Instagram pictures and photos of Taylor Swift and her crew. #squadgoals. #relationshipgoals. #bodygoals. #hairgoals.
Here’s the problem with this skewed version of social media goals: it’s not real. A goal, simply defined by Merriam-Webster, is “something that you are trying to do or achieve.”
The problem is all in the subtext because these “goals” we claim on social media are not usually things we’re actively trying to achieve, and a lot of the time they’re not things we could obtain no matter how hard we tried. The context in which #goals is used typically involves superficial qualities and characteristics of people, appearances, relationships, and friendships.
The celebrity friendships, the photoshopped bodies, the professionally styled hair and the other, unachievable “goals” we’re aiming for could be hurting us more than we realize.
By obsessing over the lifestyles we see glorified through social media, we’re hurting our own self-worth a bit more little by little. All of these “goals” create an unhealthy breeding ground for jealousy and hero worship to thrive in.
It enhances the obsession we have with comparing ourselves to every perfectly constructed and manipulated person, celebrity, relationship or thing we see on social media. These “goals” are glorifying things that are typically unattainable.
#relationshipgoals usually depict couples exploring tropical locations, in different countries week to week, or celebrities walking down the red carpet hand in hand-experiences most of us won’t ever experience, let alone experience on a regular basis.
#bodygoals are typically linked to models in minimal clothing or gym buffs with perfectly sculpted abs.
#squadgoals is most popularly linked to Taylor Swift. While these female friendships can be an empowering, amazing thing, there’s a fine line between friendships and cliques.
Rowan Blanchard, the 14-year-old (14!) star of “Girl Meets World” said it best in an interview with Just Jared Jr:
“Of course female friendship is a beautiful thing. It’s insanely powerful. Sisterhood is something so valid and important when you are growing up that I literally think the essence of it should be taught in schools. But, the ‘squads’ we see in the media are very polarizing. Feminism and friendship are supposed to be inclusive, and most of these ‘squads’ are strictly exclusive. It makes feminism look very one dimensional. Feminism is so multilayered and complex that it can be frustrating when the media and the celebrities involved in it make feminism and ‘squads’ feel like this very happy, exclusive, perfect thing. There’s so much more than that. ‘Squad goals’ can polarize anyone who is not white, thin, tall and always happy.”
Of course, the social media construct of “goals” is often used lightly or in a joking manner, but we tiptoe on the line of harmless comedy and hurtful self-deprecation. You don’t necessarily need to stop using “#goals” to describe any and everything you like on the internet (though it is getting a little tired, isn’t it?) But, it’s important that we realize the superficiality of these desires.
Your “squad” doesn’t have to be full of celebrities, models, actresses or singers as long as you have friends that are supportive of you and make you happy. Your relationship doesn’t have to be picture perfect and full of expensive gifts as long as your significant other is the right person for you right now. Your body doesn’t have to fit any certain mold to be wonderful.
If these things, and every other aspect of your life, are good enough for you, then they’re good enough.
Image via Celina Timmerman