“Blessed” Becomes Most Overused Hashtag on Social Media

(Margaret Riegel)
(Margaret Riegel)

Here are a few of the ways that God has touched my social network over the past few months:

• S(he) helped a friend get accepted into graduate school. (She was “blessed” to be there.)

• S(he) made it possible for a yoga instructor’s Caribbean spa retreat. (“Blessed to be teaching in paradise,” she wrote.)

• S(he) helped a new mom outfit her infant in a tiny designer frock. (“A year of patiently waiting and it finally fits! Feeling blessed.”)

• S(he) graced a colleague with at least 57 Facebook wall postings about her birthday. (“So blessed for all the love,” she wrote, to approximately 900 of her closest friends.)

God has, in fact, recently blessed my network with dazzling job promotions, coveted speaking gigs, the most wonderful fiancés ever, front row seats at Fashion Week, and nominations for many a “30 under 30” list. And, blessings aren’t limited to the little people, either. S(he) blessed Macklemore with a wardrobe designer (thanks for the heads up, Instagram!) and Jamie Lynn Spears with an engagement ring (“#blessed #blessed #blessed!” she wrote on Twitter). S(he)’s been known to bless Kanye West and Kim Kardashian with exotic getaways and expensive bottles of Champagne, overlooking sunsets of biblical proportion (naturally).

“There’s literally a chick in my Facebook feed right now who just posted a booty shot of herself — and all it says is ‘blessed,’ ” said Erin Jackson, a stand-up comedian in Virginia. “Now wait. Is that really a blessing?”

There’s nothing quite like invoking holiness as a way to brag about your life. But calling something “blessed” has become the go-to term for those who want to boast about an accomplishment while pretending to be humble, fish for a compliment, acknowledge a success (without sounding too conceited), or purposely elicit envy. Blessed, “divine or supremely favored,” is now used to explain that coveted Ted talk invite as well as to celebrate your grandmother’s 91st birthday. It is carried out in hashtags (#blessed), acronyms (#BH, for the Hebrew “baruch hasem,” which means “blessed be God”), and even, God forbid, emoji.

“ ‘Blessed’ is used now where in the past one might have said ‘lucky,’ ” said the linguist Deborah Tannen. “But what makes these examples humble-brags is not ‘blessed’ itself but the context: telling the world your fiancé is the best or that you’ve been invited to do something impressive. Actually I don’t even see the ‘humble’ in it. I just see ‘brag.’ ”

Athletes and entertainers have long used “blessed” in earnest, explained the linguist Ben Zimmer. In 1977, Smokey Robinson told The Chicago Tribune that he felt “blessed” to have accomplished so much in his career; the track star Jackie Joyner-Kersee called it a “blessing” when she set a world record in the heptathlon.

Of course, blessed has long been used in religious settings. It means to be made holy; it can also serve as a kind of casual well-wishing. “I grew up in a Baptist household where everybody went to church, and I often heard ‘Have a blessed day,’ ” Ms. Jackson said.

But the overuse of the word has all but stripped it of its meaning. “Now it’s just like, ‘Strawberries are half-priced at Trader Joe’s. I feel so blessed,’ ” Ms. Jackson said.

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SOURCE: The New York Times
Jessica Bennett

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