Congratulations Millennials, You’ve Now Killed The Wedding Proposal

Love and Sex

Congratulations Millennials, You’ve Now Killed The Wedding Proposal

Illustration: Ahmed Sikander

I’ve been house-hunting across Bombay with my girlfriend recently, and the number one question on every potential landlord’s lips is, “Are you two married?” On a breathless march from one matchbox-sized Bandra apartment to the next, my broker slipped me a word of advice. “Just say you’re engaged, men.” So that’s a lie I’m living now. We aren’t engaged, and it isn’t likely to happen soon, because seriously, who is going to pop the question when social media has turned the simple proposal into an affair more elaborate than the Royal Wedding and Modiji’s inauguration ceremony rolled into one?

Back in school, we showed off our fancy compass boxes and Nike sippers. In college, it was your iPod model and bike that brought you social credibility. And now that we’re in our mid-20s, the chosen battlefield for obnoxious displays of wealth and bad taste is the social media wedding proposal.

You know you’ve seen them while scrolling through your timeline. A long-forgotten classmate announces he’s getting hitched, and from that point on, it’s likes, camera, action. A huge album, most likely titled “She Said Yes!” or some equally derivative drivel, which chronicles an OTT, garish affair is posted. It appears more choreographed than the IIFA Awards.

The sheer artifice of it all was expertly parodied last year by comedian John Crist in his viral video “The Millennial Marriage Proposal”. In it, what should be one of the most treasured memories for a couple is reduced to a harrowing ordeal that’s micromanaged to death, all in the service of “doing it for the #gram”.

I’ve seen a treasure hunt, a flash mob, and a makeshift billboard featured in some scheme to create the picture-perfect social media proposal. Invariably, these events are never private, intimate affairs between the to-be bride and groom. They have a longer guest list than the queue for Lalbaugcha Raja’s darshan, which includes both sets of parents, siblings, first to probably the 100th cousins, school friends, neighbours, pets, and photos of deceased relatives.

Only last month, a couple who had been dating for nearly a decade, whose parents had blessed the union, and who had already held a freaking roka ceremony, kept flooding my timeline with pictures and videos of the proposal.

I would think that when asking a question that has a 50 per cent probability of ending badly for you, an audience is the last thing you want to add to the equation. But then the social media wedding proposal isn’t the real thing. Every detail is meticulously pre-planned, and spontaneity is as absent from proceedings as any sense of restraint. It sounds like a cliche to even call it what it is: An opportunity for garnering likes and hearts on Facebook and Instagram.

Only last month, a couple who had been dating for nearly a decade, whose parents had blessed the union, and who had already held a freaking roka ceremony, kept flooding my timeline with pictures and videos of the proposal. They kept dropping a series of pictures from London’s Trafalgar Square, of the proud suitor offering his fiancée a ring while sari and kurta-clad aunties and uncles applauded to the amusement of passing Brits in the blurred background. The caption read, “I CAN’T BELIEVE IT <3 <3”

Really? You didn’t see this coming? Not even after you called all your relatives to witness you all swearing to wed one another at the roka ceremony?

And that, really, is the bone I have to pick with the social media proposal. It just feels insincere. There are ways to express your joy for your engagement on social media without coming across like a dweeb. If a picture-less announcement in The Times seems outmoded, how about a simple selfie of the couple informing the world that they’ve partnered up? The specifics of the moment should be private, for you and your partner to enjoy, without having to share every single detail with the rest of the world. For that, there’s always the wedding.

To any unhitched people reading this, if you’re planning an elaborate wedding proposal curated for social media, please take a moment to reconsider. Will indulging your exhibitionist fetish make your relationship any stronger, or have any kind of effect on the future of your marriage? Nobody’s stopping you from going all out and hiring Celine Dion to perform “My Heart Will Go On” as you ask your lover to marry you, but spare us the details. You all are ruining it for the rest of us, and as the great 21st-century poet Taylor Swift once said, “I would like to be excluded from this narrative.”

Hopefully, unlike the dreaded joint hashtag for weddings, this is a trend that goes the way of the Kiki Challenge and just dies out. Make proposals great again, and fast! I only have a year on my lease before I need to look for houses again.