#SocialTrends: Coming to terms with the “Honor Post”

source: hastac.org

We’ve all seen it. Most of us have even done it. I don’t think it has a name yet — so I’ll give it one: the Honor Post. What is it? The Honor Post is a very public, not personally-directed message in honor of a person (living or deceased) that we are close to, like a family member or close friend. Or to illustrate in simple terms: it’s Mothers’ Day — and instead of calling her, buying her flowers or writing to her personally, you dedicate a post to them in her honor on your Facebook wall, for all to see (even though she probably doesn’t have Facebook).

Nowhere has this trend become more apparent than the last Mothers’ Day, where I became intimately familiar with the lovely mothers of all of my Facebook and Instagram friends. And most of the posts were similar: “my queen”, “most important woman in my life”, “strong, beautiful lady” etc. While it was nice to see that people remember their mothers (in this case), I couldn’t help but wonder — was it all authentic? Or was it just another form of shameless self-promotion on social media? I have to say, I am inclined to believe it is more likely the latter.

Showing empathy and caring for a friend, family member, pet, marginalized social group or even tragic event is undoubtedly commendable. But when the text of the messages becomes so cliché, when hashtags are added, and when the accompanying photo is so overly photoshopped or professionally designed — the post begins to lose all authenticity. Many of us are in constant need of validation from our online followers. As such, all of our posts become overly engineered. And what better way to collect likes and “awwww” comments than by showing caring for someone close to you? Before you all start going through my social media posts and start calling me a hypocrite, I will save you the trouble — I am guilty of it too.

My point with this brief article is to offer a critique of a new social norm, and to raise the question — where is this all heading and what can this trend lead to? Even though I also maintain and try to grow my social media presence and following, I am also a big proponent of authenticity. If you care about a cause, it’s not enough to change your profile pic with the conveniently-created Facebook filter. If you care about your mother, it is probably better to see her or call her, than post her photo on a social medium that she isn’t even on. If we don’t return to some genuine values, emotions and relationships — our society will suffer the consequences. Because this isn’t an exact science, and I am only sharing my personal observations, I would love to hear your opinion on this subject.