"Oomf" is an acronym, not the sound of a comic book superhero being punched in the stomach, and it stands for “one of my friends/followers.”

This morning on Twitter, the hashtag #oomf has been trending off and on, but it may still be unfamiliar to most. It’s an acronym, not the sound of a comic book superhero being punched in the stomach, and it stands for “one of my friends/followers.”

You can think of these posts as falling somewhere between a subtweet (a “subliminal” tweet that references someone specific, but not by name or handle) and a middle school mash note. Many simply seek to note the attractiveness of a follower without revealing which one—perhaps allowing all the account’s followers access to the flattery.

But there’s more to #oomf than just shy, safe, and near-subliminal flirtation. There’s also plenty of envy, anger, confusion, and disappointment. Users deploy #oomf to call out bad behavior and estrangements without anything like a true confrontation.

An account called @OhDearOOMF, maintained by @jayarealvarado, seems to post purely generic #oomf tweets for followers to retweet and agree with, or just openly plagiarize. There’s also @UmmDearOOMF and @ItsDearOOMF, but @OhDearOOMF has a far bigger fanbase.

It’s hard to imagine that @OhDearOOMF’s more than 5,000 tweets each relate to a specific follower—at the risk of giving them too much credit, it seeks to tap some universal truth about the detached and passive-aggressive way we go about communicating our emotions online.

Indeed, the #oomf hashtag ends up providing a fascinating tension between the melancholy drift of digital isolation ...

… and overwrought, if heartfelt, gestures of passion ...

… and this:

Turns out there are any number of things Twitter users would rather say to everyone instead of that certain someone. Who knew direct messaging would prove too much of a hassle?

Photo by evablue/Flickr | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III

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