A Brief Note About On-Line Wedding Proposals

Last night, anyone who uses the baby-proofed blogging platform Tumblr (now with fewer edges!) noticed that the upper-third of their “dashboard” had been taken over with a banner reading “Marissa Nystrom, will you marry me?” and below that was a post by a Justin Johnson, a user most people probably did not know and were not subscribed to, which included Justin’s video proposal to Marissa (above). AWWWWWWWW. KIND OF. I mean, everyone is entitled to finding some happiness in this world, or whatever, and it takes an actual capital-M Monster to be completely enraged and pessimistic about a young couple just starting to make their way in the world. As far as I am concerned, there is still a certain romance and a certain hopefulness left in the institution of marriage. If you do it right, it looks nice! I’m not, for example, a person who thinks that marriage is an outdated system of wealth consolidation and patriarchal hegemony. Some people believe that, and that is fine, too. I bet those people are even more bothered by this than I am. Oh, because make no mistake, I am very bothered by this!

For one thing, KEEP IT TO YOURSELF! We don’t need to see this. I am sure that if you were able to work it out with Tumblr to have this plastered all over everyone’s computer screen, you could have worked it out with Tumblr to have this plastered all over just her computer screen. I’ve never understood the need for a public proposal. You get down on one knee in a fancy restaurant, or on top of the Eiffel Tower in front of a crowd of tourists, or whatever other boring idea you’ve decided to use as the foundation for the rest of your life–fine. Intimate crowds of strangers…proves you are really in love? Whatever! But baseball game scoreboards and airplanes with streaming banners, all just as boring as the small-bore public proposals and just as thoughtless, have the added indignity of being extroverted and showboaty, and contrary to the whole point of your fucking proposal. This is your guys’s thing, not our thing. Remember that. It will always be true now!

But the thing that bothers me the most about these stunts is that in this day and age they just feel like blatant, aggressive attempts to get on the morning talk shows, and maybe a coffee table book of hilarious proposals, or a movie on TLC. That is what happens to elaborate, very-public stunt proposals (and choreographed Chris Brown processional dances). We know that. These guys definitely know that. “Oh my God, we never thought that it would have this kind of response.” Right. Of course, maybe that is part of the “finding your happiness” thing. Maybe your guys’s love is not strong enough to just do its own thing, maybe it has to do everyone’s thing. Maybe getting validation from hundreds to thousands to tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands to millions of strangers is part of it for you. Maybe the tiny seed of existential lack that sits in the middle of your heart with the weight of a collapsed star can only be filled by external reinforcements that you are special, and that your upcoming marriage has meaning because if it didn’t why would Meredith Vieira have you on her show and say that it did?

But you see how that’s gross, right? And kind of antithetical to the intimacy and self-reinforcement of a meaningful relationship? I mean, I hope that everything works out, but I hope your marriage isn’t going to be like this. All up in my face all the time. All desperate and forced and aggressively “charming.” Good luck with your wedding, though, and I hope the Marissa and Justin merch table is a hit. T-shirts! Commemorative t-shirts for sale!

ADDENDUM: Actually, there’s also a certain amount of cowardice in every public proposal, small- and large-bore, because you’re basically forcing the other person’s hand by making it (at least to some degree) harder for them to “cause a scene” or say no out of nervousness and embarrassment. I am just saying! Don’t you want to start your new life as a brave man? A hero?!