Minus the City: The Ghosts of Pro-Pics Past

Alison LePard

So you have defied the odds, you have conquered the seemingly omnipresent “hook-up culture” and found someone that you are ready to refer to as your “bae.” Okay, you are probably going to avoid using “bae” outside of an ironic setting, but you get the point. You’ve finally met someone who you want to start dating for real.

Once you have embarked upon a relationship, social media savvy partners are presented with a dilemma: “How do I present our relationship on social media, if at all?” Of course, there are those couples who rise above the pressure to post about their significant other on social media. But most of us mere mortals fall victim to our completely visual society and feel the need to share our romantic life. In these situations, we find ourselves striving to present a picture perfect, ideal relationship across social media platforms. Every couple has a different manner in which they present their relationship on social media. Often times these ideals vary slightly; on occasion, there are drastic differences.

Some select to post dozens of their favorite sepia-toned “selfies,” accompanied by flowery quotations about their undying love, every week. Others opt for more occasional artsy shots with captions that subtly imply they are in a relationship, while attempting to rise above all cliché couple stereotypes. Most, however, exist somewhere in between these two extremes and offer something that is cute but not so overtly “couple-y” that it makes the viewer nauseous. We attempt to present the best versions of our relationships and

ourselves, just as we always do on social media.

Over the course of a relationship, you are sure to accumulate a couple of posts across social media that reflect the relationship between you and your significant other. Yet, when the physical relationship ends, one is left with the difficult question: “What do I do with the digital footprint that is left?” Every time you log into your account, you are faced with living these former couple moments all over again, which can be extremely challenging.

Does one take a scorched-earth approach and delete every status, profile picture and Farmville request? Our posts from that weekend on the beach? Gone. The pictures from celebrations of all major holidays? Bye, bye, delete. It’s a process that effectively destroys months or years worth of memories. It removes any possibility of reconciliation, friendship and communication between you and that person.

Others may choose to leave their Facebook couple profile pictures in place, months beyond the expiration date of the relationship, not considering that their former love interest has potentially entered into a new relationship. Whether this comes from a lack of involvement in social media or from clinging to the past, it’s unknown. However, it can deter potential suitors and call the status of your relationship into question – because who actually uses the

relationship status feature on Facebook?

Ultimately, there is no universal guide on how to handle the end of a relationship, and the issue of social media creates an added layer of difficulty to successfully navigating an exit to a relationship. It’s easy to regret past relationships and destroy all the remaining evidence because it’s initially painful. It’s important, however, to take each experience as a lesson, in both love and yourself. It’s okay to look back on images and reflect upon the time spent together in a way where you aren’t dwelling or longing for the past. In the end, online presentations of both ourselves and our relationships are merely self-created images. The true quality of the relationship can only be defined by your experience. While it’s easy to look back upon the social media persona fondly, it’s important to note that it’s not, in fact, always reality.