A bunch of friends against a white wall or a pretty backdrop, all huddled up together or doing a similar pose. Click, picture taken. Uploaded on Instagram or Facebook: #squadgoals. Post.
We’ve all seen such pictures flooding our social media accounts and perhaps we ourselves have even posted these pictures before. These friends are your #baesforlife, your BFFs — or at least, you hope they will turn out to be.
For some, #squadgoals may be used when you and a friend happen to wear the same outfit on a particular day, or when your friendship group all pose in a particular way for a picture. #Squadgoals, in this case, refers to a fun and cool coincidence or event. For others, however, it can go much deeper than that … #squadgoals could be used to show that you and your friends have reached the ultimate point of closeness, an exclusive term saved only for your squad and your squad only. The word “goals” implies that this is something others should aspire toward and try to achieve; something to be jealous and envious of.
Pictures tagged with #squadgoals exploded onto the scene when the hashtag first made its appearance a few years ago, but now as the hype is slowly dying down, let’s really think about the effect it has had on us and the ways we view friendships around us. Here’s what #squadgoals taught me about friendship:
Friendships Are Harder Than They Look Online
Perhaps the biggest problem with #squadgoals is the external picture of the friendship it portrays. On social media with pretty edits, we often only see one side of the friendship — the better, easier, and seemingly perfect side. We see cliques laughing and having a good time, or knowing each other so well that they can dress alike. While these pictures could really be a representation of how close the friendship is, it can be easy to forget that there’s a whole other side that’s been cut out of the picture.
We don’t see the pain of inevitable misunderstandings, the time taken to understand each other, or the intentionality needed to become close. The truth is that friendship is a big investment. To develop a close relationship, the parties involved have to sacrifice a lot behind the scenes. A #squadgoals picture just presents an outward representation of friendship without the reality of the effort that goes into building it.
Friendship Isn't Always Instagrammable
When we begin to measure friendships against what we see posted online, we may create unrealistic expectations in our own friendship groups. Whether it is desiring the same “closeness” for ourselves or trying to force impossible standards upon our existing friends, #squadgoals may tempt us to pretend we are closer friends than we actually are.
As relational beings, we are made to desire community, and we all want to be a part of something bigger. #Squadgoals emphasises that. However, a community can take different forms, and it isn’t always going to look Insta-ready! Who is to say that an undocumented conversation over a meal isn’t as valuable as the big group holiday complete with inflatable donuts and flamingo floats? Just because we aren’t“friendship on fleek” all the time doesn’t mean that our community is any less real,and an insistence on being seen as though we are may only cause discontentment to arise. Not only will we feel strained by the expectations we’ve set for ourselves and our friends, we may also lose out on appreciating the friendships we do have!
Friendship Envy Is Real
The hashtag isn’t necessarily wrong, but how we deal with the feelings it produces can lead to trouble. As the hashtag suggests, #squadgoals is something to aspire toward, a “goal” to be achieved, and if we think we have not reached that, it can cause us to feel bitter or jealous toward the individuals who seem to have done so already.
According to Proverbs 14:30, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” What the psalmist means by a “heart at peace” is uprightness and contentment. In this particular instance, it could mean being upright in our thoughts and being content with what we have. We receive life in our body —physically, emotionally, and spiritually — when we acquire this peaceful heart. On the other hand, envy can rot our bones. Envy destroys us from the inside when we let it control our minds, thoughts, and emotions. It sucks out life and joy from us, and blocks our eyes from seeing the goodness of God working through our friendships.
How many times have we felt even the slightest pinch of something within us when we see a nice photo of a group of friends hanging out, with or without #squadgoals? That tiny bit of discomfort could very well be discontentment and jealousy taking root inside you, rotting your bones, and killing your joy.
Beyond The Hashtag
If any of these lessons I’ve shared has hit home for you, just remember that you’re not alone. Our friendships are more than the hashtags associated with them. Friendship is more valuable than how pretty a picture turns out or the number of likes it receives.
Like all other trends of popular culture today, the #squadgoals hype is now slowly dying down as quickly as it began. However, it's left us with a “perfect” image of friendship that will perhaps stay longer than the hashtag itself. While the image of the perfect #squad still lingers, we ought to remember that true friendships can’t be captured in perfect square shots, and even what looks like an image of perfect friendship may not really be one! The gift of friendship is more precious than a one-off image or impression!
This article appeared in Issue 22. For more articles on friendship, get your copy here.