Exaggeration of “goals” in media

The most classic case of the “goals” infestation is when one of my friends posts a selfie on social media. On the receiving end, “goals” is definitely flattering. It’s not every day that a person labels your accomplishment as “something that [one is] trying to do or achieve,” according to Merriam-Webster. In fact, it’s encouraging, rather than demeaning, when you find out someone envisions you as an ideal, or even perfect, role model.

Nowadays, it’s not difficult to see that the whole feed is flooded with “goals” when scrolling over the thirty to forty comments. And it isn’t just limited to selfies. There are “squad goals” for the tight-knit friendships, “fitness goals” for the hardworking athletes and “relationship goals” for those couples that everyone adores.

However, while labeling others as “goals” seems to be nothing but a harmless compliment, how often do we examine the actual meaning behind our comment? Adding an extra exclamation point or typing the word in capitalized letters may vaguely depict the extent to which our hearts throb for cute couple pictures, but do we actually mean it when we say “goals”?

We live in an age in which we value the attention we receive on social media, regardless of whether it has any substantial meaning. On top of that, we also give our attention to others generously, sometimes to the point of obsession. Normally, you’ll find the same people who make these comments make the same or similar comments on pretty much everything of the same caliber.

The overuse of the word “goals” has undergone a complete transformation from a once highly regarded definition to a less meaningful obligation since its use has become popular. In most cases, we aren’t as driven to praise friends for something outstanding they mastered as we used to be. Usually, we are driven to call others “goals” not only to satisfy their quota for praise, but also to remind them that we notice and recognize them for more than just a “like” in hopes that they will, in turn, give us back the same praise when it comes time to showcase ourselves to the social media realm.

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of achievements that definitely deserve all the praise. But should we consider the selfies as goals? When put into perspective, it’s difficult for me to see how someone else’s physical identity can be classified as something you are trying to attain for yourself. In fact, attaining another’s identity is rather impossible.

And even if what someone considers “goals” is attainable, are you actually trying to chase that desire to be what an actor, a singer or a fitness guru embodies? If your answer was no, you might be falling into the norm of idolizing someone’s success despite not wanting or needing to actually achieve that for yourself. Additionally, are we being shallow by characterizing something as “goals” based on one post or one photo?

These are hard questions to answer because we generally want to put ourselves in the positive light, but it’s not necessarily our fault that the interaction between people has hit this point. Rather than blaming ourselves for simply adapting to changing times, we should realize that the real fault is in the unintentional and inevitable shift in the way we communicate with others. Since the beginning of media, personal meaningful connections and conversations have been swapped for short, convenient phrases or words that get almost the same message across. So maybe calling something “goals” is the new way of expressing those old ideas. However, it just doesn’t feel the same as when we take the time to admire and seek tangible success instead of just acknowledging it in others.

I can’t stop you from using the word “goals,” and in reality, none of this is a big deal. Personally, I’m not particularly innocent of scrolling through my own posts and feeling satisfied from those one word praises despite having my own opinion on its usage. After all, the reason social media is successful is because people crave feedback on what they put out there for their audiences. But at the end of the day, if people do choose to use “goals” to describe their friends, family or even celebrities, all I have to say is: make it count.

By Kevin Arifin, Manager
Photos by Austin Lam, Kevin Arifin, Sam Compolongo