The Summer of the #Squad

Photo: Chris Pizzello / Invision / AP

Excerpt from this article:

Welcome to the summer of the #squad… The one that finds Instagram users across the country tagging their friends, all arm-bent and hip-thrust and attractively filtered, as #squads, and Tumblr users, announcing their own #squadgoals, digging up pastelled pictures of the Golden Girls. The one that finds Taylor Swift touring the country, in a series of shows that are equal parts pop performance and religious revival, with her squad—or rather her #squad—in tow.

#Squad and #squadgoals… make a general assumption: that groups—be they composed of girls or boys or celebrities or musicians or Taylor Swift’s cats or a mixture of all of the above—are more than the sum of their parts. “Squad” is the logical outcome of a cultural moment that brought about selfie sticks and “giving face”: We are, collectively, fascinated by ourselves, as physical beings. And we are particularly fascinated by ourselves as members of groups.

… When a squad is presented as a #squad, it is transforming itself, via the logic of media, from a social circumstance into a social product. It’s transforming the generality of a group of friends—a collective that can expand or contract, organically—into a specific, and defined, thing. A branded thing. A #squad is a clique, commodified.

…The squad, in that sense, pays tacit homage to the logics of social networking—connections, nodes—that Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and other services have laid bare. It also, in its celebrity form, understands the power of the commodified friendship… For us laypeople, it’s fun, and illuminating, to see celebrities interacting as (basically) normals. It’s delightful to see them acting awkward and giddy and human together.

It’s also sort of soothing. Because there is also something reassuring about a squad, whether it consists of celebrities or normal people. The squad takes the logic of the sitcom—a small social universe, carefully curated and hermetically sealed—and makes it accessible to the rest of us. And there’s a certain appeal to that, on-screen and off. The squad is, ideally, a solid group of friends—friends who will be with you, season after season.

Which is also to say: The squad is a friend group that functions, in its way, as a family.