Where does Throwback Thursday come from?
Throwback Thursday as a phrase dates back to at least 2006. In January that year, a blogger posted a Throwback Thursday post about classic cartoons. In July, another blogger also used the phrase as the title of a feature on his blog about sneakers. The same month, the Georgia Tech football team wore 1970s-style uniforms for Throwback Thursday, the familiar reference to the phrase suggesting the social media trend was already in full swing at the time. The phrase turns up on Twitter in 2007, with #throwbackthursday appearing in 2008 and the abbreviated #tbt by 2009.
The phrase Throwback Thursday gained further popularity in 2011 as more blogs used the title. Hashtags appeared on Instagram in the same year, with a user called bobbysanders22 posting the first photo hashtagged #throwbackthursday on that site. Interest in the phrase grew throughout 2012. By 2013, Throwback Thursday had become ubiquitous on Instagram. The shortened version, #tbt, was one of the most popular hashtags on the website, used in over 127 million posts by everyone from Michelle Obama to Lebron James, according to Instagram. The popularity of the hashtag only continued, with over 365 million posts hashtagged #tbt as of April 2017. Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook users make widespread use of the trend as well.
Who uses Throwback Thursday?
People use Throwback Thursday to commemorate past moments (throwbacks) in their lives, sometimes with nostalgia and other times with self-deprecation about their former selves. For example, after her hit album 1989 came out in 2014, superstar Taylor Swift posted a dorky school photo of herself.
The popular posting format for Throwback Thursday is to either append the hashtag to a post or to use the follow formula: “Throwback Thursday/tbt to _.”
Some have attempted to give the #tbt trend a very specific set of rules. For instance, you’re supposed to post pictures of yourself, not of a celebrity, and you should only post things from a different era of your life, not a week ago. In practice, though, many consider this etiquette is arbitrary and certainly none of it has complete agreement from all corners.
The Throwback Thursday concept has been far extended beyond selfies, as well. Users might share humorous memories, pieces of history, and other information about the past.
A similar though less widespread concept is Flashback Friday. Although the names are different, users tend to post the same types of content on both days.
“throwback thursday to when i thought beyoncé was singing 'sex and chills' instead of 'six inch heels' in lemonade”
Beckett @misandrii Twitter (April 20, 2017)
“Throwback Thursdays: Grace Kelly, wearing the famous gold gown Edith Head designed for the masquerade ball in Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, 1955.”
miss-mandy-m Tumblr (Janary 19, 2017)
“That time I was 10 years old at the beach and thought this was the coolest outfit ever. Check out these stretchy wedged sandals. #only90skidswillremember #throwbackthursday #throwback #tbt”
mssummeralyse Instagram (April 20, 2017)