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Culture

Have you been seeing a lot of red flag emojis on social media? Here's why.

red flag

Red flags are popping up on Twitter.

We love emojis. These modern-day hieroglyphics are the statement jewelry of punctuation in the digital age. Nothing quite drives a message home better than the clapping hands going between words in ALL CAPS, am I right? And who doesn't appreciate receiving a quick skull to indicate that your joke was so funny, the other person is, in fact, dead.

Well, there's a new emoji sheriff in town, folks. Odds are you've probably seen a little "red flag emoji" popping up all across social media posts. While these markers are indeed a warning, I wouldn't be too concerned. They don't indicate any real danger. Unless of course the one posting them was your date from last night…


Just like in real life, the now viral internet meme signals potentially, um, I think the nice way of saying it is "problematic" behavior in a newly met person. Though red flags are commonly discussed in the dating world, they can pop up in any encounter. Whatever statement, strong opinion or otherwise awkward interaction that makes you think "uh-oh, this is not a person I actually want to associate with," that is a red flag. And though red flags can take a serious spin, this trend is definitely taking on a lighter tone.

The trend originally began on Black Twitter, where users shared humorous dating warning signs, like "TEXT SLOW BUT ALWAYS ON SOCIAL MEDIA," and "I'm cool wit all my exes."





But like all social media phenomena, this has morphed into something bigger.

The formula is a simple: quote or brief description + anywhere between seven and a million red triangle flags (seriously, some people put a lot of them). Other than that, your red flag warning can be about literally anything. From controversial culinary choices…



… to misaligned movie choices.




And again, it doesn't always have to be about dating. Like with this Twitter user who shared a less-than-desirable salon experience.


From fan accounts to celebrities and major companies, everyone seems to be joining in on the fun. Including Wonder Woman herself, standing up against the patriarchy.



Dolly Parton sent her "Jolene"-inspired red flag tweet that warranted its very own article in HuffPost.


Others, like Trevor Noah, were a bit more on the savage side.



Netflix used the trend to advocate against superficiality. Although truth be told I'm 99% sure they have at least 200 movies with this exact plot.



Brands like Pepsi and Twitter kept the messaging simple. Don't like their product? Red flag.





You know it's cool if the Teletubbies are doing it:



The trend has begun to morph again, as some people have used it to make fun of themselves, and all the red flags they ignore.



One Twitter user attempted to inject a little positivity by incorporating green flags to indicate general acts or words of kindness, like "what can I do to make you feel better."



Though these tweets are generally fun to read, it turns out they are an audible hell for those who use screen readers. Imagine having to hear Siri say "triangular post on flag" (the emoji's proper name) 40 times. Yikes.

Despite the reported nuisance, the trend continues to grow. And it doesn't seem to be letting up any time soon. Look on the bright side: It might just be a lighthearted way of getting us all to mind our Ps and Qs, lest we find ourselves marked with the scarlet emoji.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

I have plenty of space.

This article originally appeared on 04.09.16


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