Hashtags + Community

It’s no secret that I enjoy social media and Twitter was one of the first to get me hooked. And that’s where hashtags have their origins. But even if you don’t do Twitter, hashtags have creeped into other social media platforms and even into everyday speech {ugh}.

Mandi Ehman wrote on her blog this week about the #boymom hashtag and how it is encouraging gender stereotypes. At first I was offended because I use that hashtag often, but after reading through her post, I realized it’s the not the hashtag she has a problem with, but rather how people are using it. I get that.

Here’s my take on hashtags:

Hashtags

I use hashtags to find and join a community of similar people. I know when I search through the #boymom hashtag, I’m going to find other boy moms! If I want to connect with other moms who run, I know #motherrunner will get me there. I know I can search the #packers hashtag during a game and find people commiserating about the last touchdown or missed field goal.

Some hashtags are funny, some are for contests, some are for events, but I believe in the power of hashtags to develop community if we use them well. But just like any other form of social media, we need to use these hashtags honestly to reflect the community as a whole.

Mandi makes the point in her post that most pictures and posts in the #boymom hashtag streams include dirt and cars and bugs, but that is not what EVERY boy mom experiences. My boys hate bugs. They enjoy baking with me. If we only use the #boymom hashtag on stereotypical “boy” things, we’re not really inviting a REAL, full community of all boy moms.

Does every homeschool situation look the same? No, but lots of people use the #homeschool hashtag and find a diverse community of homeschoolers there. The #motherrunner hashtag has brand new runners and experienced marathoners, but there is community found in the common ground of being mothers who run.

My MOB Society co-founder, Brooke, shared a great perspective on hashtags in the comments of Mandi’s post:

For me, using that hashtag, and creating an entire community just for #boymoms is about just that…community. When I use that hashtag it’s because I’m reaching out to the very population God has called me to stand in the gap for. It’s about bringing people in to a group of like-minded people.

I am social. I love community. I over-hashtag a lot, but I know it will bring me to more like-minded people and connecting with those new people is energizing to me. I will keep using the #boymom hashtag, but not just for “boy” things. Baking or crafting with my boys is no less of a #boymom experience that catching frogs or going fishing.

Let’s be wise and honest in our use of hashtags, but let’s also have fun with the community they bring – that was the point of hashtags in the first place, right?!

Some of my favorite hashtag communities:

  • #fridayintroductions {Instagram}
  • #Huskers {duh}
  • #mobsociety
  • #surprisedbymotherhood
  • #motherrunner
  • #amwriting
  • #fmfparty {Twitter}

What are your favorite hashtags to follow? Which hashtags have formed great community for you?

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Comments

  1. I think in this time of “politically correct” we just take things far too personal! My boys don’t play with guns. I just don’t see the need to get so offended about such things. If you’re a boy mom, then you can be in the boy mom community. Mine don’t play with guns (GASP! I know…how could I not have my boys playing with guns)…one is athletic and one isn’t. One prefers longer hair while one prefers shorter hair. One is an early reader at 4, and one is a struggling reader at 6. The point is they are individuals! They are people…but they are also boys, so sometimes I tag things with the #boymom hashtag. I just don’t understand making everything offensive. Should I not be proud to be a mom of boys just because my boys do or don’t live up to some sort of stereotype?

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    Crystal @ Serving Joyfully Reply:

    PS–I edited my comment before sending it and apparently didn’t get it all fixed up….sorry it’s all confusing! Also, I read her article before responding to yours and took out some frustration about that in my comment…I didn’t mean to completely ignore the purpose of your post. I agree with you that the hashtag is for the purpose of community :)

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  2. I love making hashtags as a point of finding community. I always know when I see a #boymom tag that someone else understands what it really means to be a mom of boys. Its not about the stereotypes, but about the heart and soul we pour into them on a daily basis. This is a great post!
    Andrea recently posted..This ministry of motherhood

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  3. When I see the boy mom hashtag I have always thought “these are moms of boys” – not necessarily to the exclusion of girls or girl mom’s (in fact, some boy moms are girl moms too!). That said, I don’t tend to be easily offended and when I read Mandi’s post I could see where she was coming from. I thought your response was very well thought out and spot on though.

    Honestly, my biggest annoyance is with the common phrase “all boy.” I mean, what does that even mean? If my son doesn’t do something that is considered “all boy” he is part girl? haha Seriously though… he broke his foot a couple months ago by tripping when he was jumping down two carpeted stairs. Even when I would tell people how he did it, I can’t even count the number of times they would said “oh well he’s just all boy!” I know people are saying it innocently and with good intentions, but a girl could have tripped down the stairs just as easily. It doesn’t even make sense!

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    Fleurztael Reply:

    Liz, I agree concerning the “all boy” statement. I am mom to two boys and I hear it constantly. Calling them all boy opens a huge can of worms for parents whose sons don’t fit the stereotypical mold, but the times I’ve heard it, it’s come from well meaning individuals. One of my “all boys” sons does love pink and purple :).

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  4. Thanks for the hashtag suggestions. I am new to Instagram and have wondered about how to connect with other moms on there. I will go explore :)

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  5. Jeanine says:

    I didn’t really get the whole # thing, still kinda don’t… Still call it a pound sign. And it’s really difficult to find it on my iPhone keyboard. My boys are super stereotypical boys – I’m ok with that – and they all are into completely different stuff and the same at the same time.

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