Are You Really in Love if It’s Not on Instagram?

Excerpt from this article:

My friend stuck her phone under my nose. On it was a picture on Instagram of a couple we both know, a photo of one of them pursing her lips over a frothy cocktail in a dim bar, flash on. Underneath, the caption said something like, “Weekly Love Post #72: Fancy cocktails with bae #mygirlfriendisbetterthanyours #weekiversary #sorryshestaken.”

The members of this couple are nice in real life, and they are in love, and that is wonderful, but they are terrors on social media. The weekiversary posts are just the tip of the frozen-barf iceberg. There are also close, glistening photos of their home-cooked nightly dinners (kissy face #shesakeeper). There are unrelenting, near identical pictures of one of them napping next to a cat (heart-eyes #allmine). The content is nauseating and compelling; an endless highlight reel of two people who are strangely uninterested in keeping private, small joys in their relationship private.

Why do people perform their relationships online? Who is it for? I don’t understand the point of regularly writing deeply personal declarations of love, even if it’s platonic friendship love, for thousands of strangers to see. Do people do it to mark territory? To make their person feel good? To show others that someone is worthy of love, but — hold up — you’ve already chosen them?

Our real lives and online lives are merging; they’re starting to feel indistinguishable. Even regular, noncelebrity people cultivate their own brands. Is a relationship real if it’s not flaunted on Instagram? Is the new definition of a commitment-phobe someone who chooses to keep relationships offline?

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