The Problem with Being #Blessed May 5, 2014

The Problem with Being #Blessed

You know how some Christians love to say God “guided” them to do something when the truth is more like they just made a decision and are now looking for justification (for themselves as well as everyone else)?

And what about “miracle”? Just because something seems improbable doesn’t mean it couldn’t have happened or that there’s not a natural explanation in sight. Often, those miracles happen many, many times a day, whether it’s finding a parking spot in a crowded lot or giving birth.

A lot of holy words have become so overused that they no longer carry much weight. Either that, or their use takes on a whole new meaning.

#Blessed works in a similar way, says Jessica Bennett in the New York Times:

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.’

On Twitter, the #blessed hashtag may still prompt some genuine sentiment (“blessed to have such a supportive family behind me”) but more often than not it is blatantly self-promotional (“#blessed to be in 3rd place at the Webbys… please vote now!”), surreptitiously braggy, or just plain absurd (Tim Tebow’s Twitter bio is just the single word).

Like Bennett, I don’t mind the heartfelt sentiments of religious people, but she’s right that the overuse of the word has rendered it almost meaningless. It’s like a “Get Out of Criticism Free” card for anyone who wants to flaunt what they have.

You don’t get blessed with good genes. You got lucky.

You don’t get blessed with a job promotion. You earned that.

You don’t get blessed with great friends. You decided to surround yourself with them.

If you want to go crazy, just take a look at the context in which the word is being used right now on Twitter. Some of it’s genuine. A lot of it, though, is just a sound semi-religious people make in the process of telling you how great their lives are.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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