Can we just talk about the Hashtag for a minute?

Seriously. I know this is a tough topic for everyone, considering we are all so distinctly on one side or another. (The sides, of course, being absolute hatred of the hashtag and/
or utter bewilderment and confusion, and adoring the hashtag to the extent that it's starting to take over your life.) This may be hard to hear, but you know me... I like to deal with the difficult issues. If you find yourself falling into the latter category, please: consider this your hashtag intervention.

I remember a time when a simple # was the symbol for number and nothing more. Now, we say number to acknowledge a wide variety of things. It's sort of the virtual version of not shutting up. Where once we could post a picture with a simple caption My sister and I on Spring Break! we now feel the need to follow that information up with every possible question someone could ask about the picture. Wait, did you say Spring Break? #SpringBreak I'm confused, Spring Break of what year? #2014yo HOLD UP I thought you were a natural brunette? #RockinTheBlond But...but...what is that body of water behind you....? #ocean And those winged creatures? #birds And what did you have for lunch that day? #Justatepizza #sofull #hatemyself 
We have Twitter to blame, but I say more power to 'em for coming up with something new. I mean, congratulations. It really caught on. The problem wasn't when people were hashtagging on Twitter... the problem was when it started to invade all other social media, where it didn't even work, and in turn the rest of our lives.
You know how people like to write on the freeway overpass with cups? Welcome Home Elder So and So, I love you Blah Blah, etc? Well, I kid you not, I have seen some of those with HASHTAGS. AND SIDEWAYS SMILEYS! :) <--- Are people really not aware that the sideways smiley is a thing because it's all we used to be able to do on computers? Am I the only one who remembers when all you could do on your computer was play Minesweeper and draw one of these bad boys on Paint?

My point being, why oh why could you not do a regular, right-side-up smiley face in the real world?
See, there's a problem with hashtags that goes far beyond my sheer annoyance with them, and it is this: it opens up a whole new world of communication, while also leaving us completely limited with what we can do with it. Which is why I propose OtherTags: tags we can use in social media and OF COURSE real life in order to more effectively communicate:

* The Sarcasm Tag: Used to convey sarcasm in any statement. Ex: *GoodGoingHotShot. This one is particularly useful for people like me, who use sarcasm about as often as not, and have felt the pain of people  not fully grasping your sarcastic ways.

% The Drama Tag: Used to convey intensity and drama in your posts. Ex: %MYLIFEISOVER. This one will be extremely useful for all the people begging for attention. Wait, what? I didn't say that.

$ The Poor Tag: Used to accept donations from friends. $BringOnTheMoney, I'm broke.

! The Warning Tag: Used to warn others that your posts sole intention was to cause conflict among your Facebook friends. Ex: !GirlsCan'tPlaySports. This way, I can avoid reading the next 25 responses of arguments because let's face it, once you start reading them, you can't look away.

And feel free to use these new OtherTags simultaneously, and alongside the hashtag. For example, rather than just telling us all that you went to the gym, tell us with some flair! #GymminItUp *I'mSObuff !MyMusclesAreBiggerThanYours%

I say if we're gonna do this Hashtag thing, let's do it right.

But really, people. Haven't you ever looked at a picture of your mom in the 70's and laughed at her hair and shirt and wallpaper and shag carpet? Don't you think, someday, your kids will be looking you up online and see all your obnoxious posts with all the unnecessary hashtags and think the same thing you did about your mom's Farrah Fawcett hairstyle? Are we going to let hashtags become our own personal shag carpet?

The hashtag is like our money: the only thing backing it is our belief that it means something. Maybe it's the writer in me, but I couldn't stay silent any longer. Use full sentences. You weren't raised in a barn.


The Fallacy of Newlywed...ness

    The other day, I was telling someone some story about Caleb and I, and they laughed and rolled their eyes and said, "Oh, you two are obviously still newlyweds." It made me stop and think because for one, no we're not. And for another, this person was shocked that Caleb and I are so nice to each other. That, obviously, is something that will go away with time. When we're done being newlyweds, and on to truly despising eachother, as we should be.
    I posted a link to this blog post the other day because it was something I've been wanting to write about, but of course he just says it so much better than I ever could. It basically just talks about how we all have this idea that men should respect their wives, but it doesn't work the other way around. I remember right after we got married, a lot of people asking Caleb, "So has she left you yet?" "Has she gone running home to her Mom yet?" Or some other equally insulting variation of that. Even though they were clearly kidding, it was a little bit strange that so many people asked him, yet nobody joked about that with me. Because, see, as the wife, when I got married I became burdened by this goofy, lazy oaf of a man who does nothing but drive me crazy as I cook for him and clean up after him and work hard so he can sit on the couch and watch the game.
I don't know how this started, but I'd say sitcoms are a safe bet.

According to TV, husbands are lazy and useless, and do nothing but sit around and drink beer all day. But that's ok, because this husband is married to a wife who is profoundly more intelligent than he is. She is left to micromanage every aspect of his life: his hobbies, his friendships, his career. When he inevitably messes things up like the big buffoon that he is, she steps in and makes everything better, and it's all just so darn entertaining.
    I hate to get on my soap box over something so trivial, but I can't help but feel a little bit offended for my husband, for husbands everywhere. What's worse, is it doesn't stay on TV. When we are bombarded with these images, we tend to become them. I can't tell you how many men I've seen fall into that role simply because they felt that's who they were supposed to become. Or how many women I've seen belittle their husbands with no regard for their feelings because they feel embarrassed by every little thing they do. I have all too often heard people say their husband is just like another one of their children.
     (Sidenote: I saw a meme about this on Pinterest the other day, so I was searching for the picture and accidentally stumbled across an article titled: "10 Reasons Your Husband is Just Another Child." It was full of such gems as "He gets hungry on long car rides and you have to give him snacks from your purse." and "You have to remind him where things go in the kitchen." Thank you for proving my point, Google.)

   We have to change our way of thinking. How is it ok that we demand respect from men, but don't feel any reason we should have to give it in return? 
   That was just my little segue into the other issue the comment mentioned earlier made me think about: this fallacy of being "newlyweds" or in the "honeymoon stage" of your relationship. I won't say it doesn't exist: being newlyweds is obviously very different than when you've been married a year, or five, or twenty. But that's only because of the newness. You appreciate each other more. You notice the little things in everyday more, the things that slowly go away or seem less important as you fall into a routine together.
Caleb and I love are a little bit obsessed with How I Met Your Mother.

    In one of the early episodes, Lily is upset because she's afraid she and Marshall have run out of "firsts." They've been together for years, and a lot of the newness is gone. I have to say, I would have been jumping up and down and cheering at this point. Maybe I'm weird, but man do I hate that newness. I hate first dates, I hate feeling uncomfortable or not myself. And man I hate getting dressed up everytime, worrying he'll come over early and see you without makeup, worrying you'll accidentally burp if you drink soda, accidentally burping when you drink soda. (Nooo, I'm not speaking from experience here. What?) I much prefer the closeness that comes with a long relationship. I can truthfully say Caleb is my best friend, and I'd take that over a first kiss with someone any day. 
   Still, I have felt the way Lily did myself from time to time. Not necessarily wanting a brand-new relationship all over again, but also wanting to avoid becoming an old couple that doesn't like each other anymore. Yes, I've felt like there was no in between. But then I realized something.
  When you're with someone long enough, your relationship is bound to change. But rather than focusing on the ways you've grown apart, why not focus on the ways you've grown together? Sure, you might fall asleep at night with a foot and a half of space between you, but before you fell asleep did you stay up late talking about your day? Do you dream about your life together, your shared goals? Do you congratulate each other on wins, and console each other during losses?

  I was blissfully in love the day we got married, but I had no idea what was in store for us. All I knew was we were both in it for the long haul, I had finally found someone I could spend forever with, someone who would love me unconditionally, through thick and thin. I thought I understood that. I was ready to commit, promise I'd be there for him too. But our first year of marriage really put it into action. It's one thing to say you'll love someone unconditionally, it's another thing to really love someone unconditionally. We went through so many ups and downs our first year of marriage. We disagreed about things. I got upset about dirty dishes. We stayed up too late and were too tired the next day. We did big things too: we bought our first home. We got a puppy. I got a new job. We lost a baby. All those things did so much more than bond us. They knit us slowly together into the family we agreed to become the day we got married.
  It's not going to be easy. You're going to drive each other crazy sometimes. But you don't have to get rid of all that "newlywed"-ness. You don't have to talk down to your husband just because he's your husband and you can. He doesn't have to spend all day in front of the TV just because you expect it. You don't have to become the couples you see every day on TV who treat each other badly and don't have an ounce of respect between them. Those couples are a dime a dozen. Instead, treat each other the way you did on your wedding day. Speak kindly. Hug them for no reason. Treat them like they are the greatest gift you've ever been given, not some burden weighing you down.
  You don't have to be a newlywed to act like one. And don't let anybody tell you that you should wish you were one again: all the ups and downs you've been through together since then are so much more bonding than that feeling ever was.

Why You're Never Going to be Happy

We girls do this weird thing to ourselves where we pick a person, or a few people, and compare every flaw of ours to every perfection of theirs.
Think you're not guilty of this? What about the last time you sat on Facebook, scrolling through someone's pictures, wondering why her hair is always so perfect, or why her kids seem so well behaved, or why her life seems so awesome.
For me, it was a girl my friends and I idolized for the last few years. She has really successful business with her husband, and is just all around awesome. We would watch all her pictures and videos and say, "Why can't we be like her?" She posted a picture the other day of her, skinny as a pole with a perfect round baby bump, standing on a balcony in LA. Everything about the picture made me envious. She was skinny, she was pregnant, she was in LA. But there was more, of course. It looked early in the morning, and she was already ready, so clearly she was more of a morning person than me. She could afford to just go to LA on a whim. Her clothes were cute. She was perfect, and I was, in every possible way, failing to reach the potential perfectness that she has already accomplished.
My friends in High School did the same thing with this older girl who was also from Brigham. Apparently when she graduated, she did everything right, became as perfect as can be, and an idol for us younger girls. I never really understood the obsession. Whenever they'd go off on the cute way she dressed or how handsome her husband was, I just sat there confused as to why she had become the goal we were all trying to reach.
The problem with this thinking, especially nowadays, is that we're comparing apples to oranges. Not even that, we're comparing apples to raccoons. Our real lives are not and will not ever be like someones fake instagram life.
Facebook and Instagram have become like a strange form of bullying among girls. We post pictures and statuses of only the best, most perfect moments of our lives. We look amazing and happy in the pictures, we're surrounded by friends and loved ones, our houses are perfectly clean and even though it's 2:00 on a Wednesday, none of us have jobs tying us down. We don't discuss financial troubles or marital problems or any problems, for that matter. And without even realizing it, we are setting completely unrealistic goals for the girls who are looking to us, wondering why they can't reach what we've reached.
It's absurd. No one is perfect. Do you really know anyone in your real life who is completely perfect in every way? Someone that you would trade everything you are to be like them? Once we get close enough to people, we see that things aren't nearly as perfect as they seem online.
After I saw that picture in LA, I realized I spent the next twenty minutes or so beating myself up about where I was at in life, and wishing I had half the things she had. But then I realized how crazy I was being. This was a girl I've never even met. I thought I knew her through her posts and pictures, but that's impossible. I was already planning ways to be more like her, and all that could do was set me up to inevitably fall short, feel worse about myself, and spiral down into the abyss of "I'm not and will not ever be good enough."
So instead, let's look at the facts. There are a lot of things I'm good at, and I honestly and truly love my life. Instead of looking at someone else as my twisted, distorted, online role model, why don't I look to myself and try to see myself the way others see me, online at least? What are the good things that I have to offer, the things that people are desperately hoping to find that I've already accomplished?
Better yet, why don't I find a real-life, living and breathing role model? If you absolutely have to compare yourself to someone, compare yourself to someones real life. Instagram is like People magazine. It gives us a glimpse into someones life without showing the real picture. Just like a practiced celebrity isn't going to go to the store without her cutest shorts and sunglasses on, so are the instagrammers of our lives not going to snap a picture until they look absolutely perfect.
I'm sorry to break the illusion that we've all been carefully putting together online, but I've seen it more and more lately among my friends and among myself, and it has to stop. It leads to a road of self-destruction and self-loathing. I'm not suggesting that we never try to better ourselves, just that we start living in reality instead of solely online.