'Love' Dominated Instagram as 2016's Most Popular Hashtag

'Love' Dominated Instagram as 2016's Most Popular Hashtag2016 wasn't the greatest year for anything. Not even the English language was exempt from being the object of our trying times, with several sad reports rolling in as the year concludes which speak to what words were buzzing in our heads the most in 2016.

Fascism was the most-searched word on Merriam-Webster — causing the site to post a very sad tweet asking people to please search something, anything else — and 'Xenophobia' was's chosen word of the year. Yikes. But there's one little kernel of hope in another metric, and it makes the world look brighter for a hot second: Instagram's most popular hashtag of 2016 was none other than the greatest of all things, #love.

While it's fair to say that 'love' itself is an often-overused word, in terms of hyperbole (Do you really "LOVE!!" those boots?), it's comforting to see a positive term come out on top. That said, it's also a hashtag used to gain popularity. More than 960 million posts bear the #love mark, and many of those posts are typically thirsty ones that resemble ads more than sweet commemorations. If you Google "Instagram hashtag love," you'll find a lot of results about "how to gain followers." #Love also pops up on the search engine alongside Instagram's second-most-popular hashtag, #instagood — it's yet another tool to use to gain Likes.

Love's popularity, though, is a pretty sweet thing to focus on in an increasingly-bleak news cycle. A deeper look at the explore page for '#Love' shows us a lot of real love: teenagers posting pictures with their families, excited couples posting engagement pictures, friends posting selfies as they travel the world, people posting portraits of the pets they care for every day, photos of the work many users take pride in, and, finally, so many cute babies! As Refinery 29 points out, #Love gives us quick looks at a lot of heartwarming stories we can imagine for ourselves.

At least on Instagram in 2016, we laughed, we cried, we #love-d. Perhaps in 2017, we can all do those things a little more IRL.
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