I’d like to speak candidly about these platforms we call social media that indirectly cultivate a community of haters who judge people’s public interactions so hard they are forced to post with caution. Public interactions like The Insta Debut. And the honeymooning newlyweds kissing on the back of a boat in Capri. And the “Just because I love him” caption. Some say aw and others, the haters, they think “ugh, STFU” already.
Listen, I used to not be so for public interaction either. I used to hate PDA. Public Display of Affection. I used to hate it because I would equate the term ‘affection’ with the American couple kissing like they were French on the F line, their lips in a battle of tongue-of-war shifting clumsily as the train seesawed back and forth. However, after riding the subway for six years, I’ve learned to associate ‘affection’ with other things like the couple holding hands. And the couple simply looking into each other’s eyes. If we viewed ‘PDA’ pictures and captions in this same light—as healthy public displays of affection—would people still send said pictures to their group chat to communally judge them? (I think people who judge other people’s pictures are exactly what mommy said about that girl in kindergarten who called you a dweeb—INSECURE and JEALOUS.)
On one hand I understand the alluring mystery and sacredness behind keeping pictures and actions private. Not posting anything saves you the trouble of having to take a picture down because you didn't get any likes. Not posting saves you the trouble of having to take a picture down of you and your ex because you're no longer together. I also think the “mystery girl”, the one who comes out of nowhere with no trace on social media, is alluring to men. People shouldn't seen everywhere all the time whether it's in person or on social media; you lose your spark. As a writer on the other hand, I also acknowledge that it is the year 2015 and as technology progresses, we want to share our writing, our art, our life with the world. There is something very vulnerable and relatable about sharing anything.
If we were all really honest with ourselves though and analyzed our ulterior motives for posting pictures, our captions would look like it vomited a raw scene from that movie where the guy could never lie. Here are some pictures deciphered:
A:You put a picture of yourself with friends laughing = You want to post pictures because you’re trying to make that ex-boyfriend think you’re having the timeeeee of yourrrr lifeeee.
B: You post a picture at a museum = You want people to know you're a worldy, cultured white girl.
C: The Insta Debut = Guys, we are for realz.
D: You put a picture of you and your friend at Serafina with a heart emoji as your caption = “I think I look good in this picture so I’m going to post it.” Also there was sick lighting.
Guilty of all these things by the way.
Nowadays you’re not just seeing pictures of where people are eating at any given moment, you’re seeing everything. You know that girl you went to high school with broke up with her boyfriend before her grandma does because she deleted every picture off social media. And you know granny doesn't use social media to find out juicy gossip, she uses it to post pics of her grandkids. Also, “I don’t understand why we have to see people's honeymoon pictures? We never had that in our day,” seems to be the general inquiry on my Friday night table.
That's because social media hasn’t only cultivated a community of haters, but a community of openness. You’re seeing Leandra post about how she wants to make the struggle to get pregnant an open discussion. She writes, “But see, now that I’m “trying” — that it’s been 17 months since I told my ovaries to stop dropping those fucking eggs and just let them stick — I remember that feeling again, and it’s reminded me of another reason we don’t talk about it: shame.” And even Mark Zuckerberg posted about his wife’s miscarriages before finally getting pregnant, “In today's open and connected world, discussing these issues doesn't distance us; it brings us together. It creates understanding and tolerance, and it gives us hope.” We talk about things like abortion, and miscarriages, and trying to get pregnant to counteract the stigma that comes along with these topics. We talk about the escalating tragedies around the world to spread awareness. But what about the newlywed couple kissing on a boat in the back of Capri? How can I explain why we must share those moments with people on public forums if in its very nature is not meant to counteract shame or to spread awareness?
I think it’s because I'd like to think our 'ulterior motive', most of the time, is to share our happiness. We’re so darn happy that we want the world to see. I’m not saying privacy is off the table and that you should post every single picture from your wedding album. “Because you most certainly should not,” said the verdict of my group chat. But at the end of the day, those pictures on social media shouldn’t cultivate hate or envy, it gives people a way to share their affection and in turn gives us a way to share in people’s happiness.