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."
TEXT SLOW BUT ALWAYS ON SOCIAL MEDIA 🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩
— PEGEE (@VH1PNUT___) October 12, 2021
“I'm cool wit all my exes" 🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩
— Frank Jordon 🍷 (@Frankiexii) October 12, 2021
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…
“Pineapple does not belong on pizza" 🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩
— oreste✨ (@OresteMercado) October 14, 2021
“I like pineapple on my pizza."
— Shaykh Azhar Nasser (@ShaykhAzhar) October 13, 2021
… to misaligned movie choices.
“My favourite movie is Fight Club." 🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩
— Andres Ghoulsman (@pocketwriter) October 13, 2021
“i don't watch horror films" 🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩
— women in horror (@womeninhorrors) October 13, 2021
And again, it doesn't always have to be about dating. Like with this Twitter user who shared a less-than-desirable salon experience.
when your hairstylist don't take a picture after your appointment 🚩🚩🚩🚩😂
— faith (@faiththegemini) October 13, 2021
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.
When all his favorite superheroes are men... 🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩 pic.twitter.com/mOBJ2QeMzb
— Lynda Carter 🎃 (@RealLyndaCarter) October 13, 2021
Dolly Parton sent her "Jolene"-inspired red flag tweet that warranted its very own article in HuffPost.
When her beauty is beyond compare with flaming locks of auburn hair 🚩🚩🚩
— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) October 13, 2021
Others, like Trevor Noah, were a bit more on the savage side.
“Hello, I'm Ted Cruz" 🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) October 13, 2021
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.
Protagonist who notices the girl only when she takes off her glasses and gets a makeover 🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩 🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩
— Netflix India (@NetflixIndia) October 14, 2021
Brands like Pepsi and Twitter kept the messaging simple. Don't like their product? Red flag.
“I've never had a Pepsi in my life" 🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩
— Pepsi (@pepsi) October 13, 2021
“I'm not on Twitter" 🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩
— Twitter (@Twitter) October 12, 2021
You know it's cool if the Teletubbies are doing it:
“No thanks, I don't want any Tubby Custard!" 🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩
— Teletubbies (@TeletubbiesHQ) October 13, 2021
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.
"Me pretending I don't see any red flags in my life"🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩 pic.twitter.com/lX88f1Pjdm
— YOGITHA♡ (@YogithaNandini) October 14, 2021
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."
Can we start naming some green flags? I'll start “let me pay for your hair appointment"
— beyonce's burner (@badgallzl) October 12, 2021
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.
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