It used to be that a person could relax in the comfort of their own home and not have to be subjected to the dreaded PDA (public display of affection). Generally, the PDA is only enjoyable to the people engaged in the act, whatever it may be, and of course to your run of the mill pervy observer, lurking in the shadows. But to the average human that happens to be in the vicinity, an open and over the top PDA results not in any sort of gratification, sexual or otherwise, but in awkwardness, discomfort, boredom and the occasional eyeroll. All this unpleasantness could usually be avoided if we took out the P part of the equation. But thanks to the wonders of social media, the PDA is pretty much unavoidable.
Now don’t get me wrong, no one is begrudging couples showing affection towards each other. I’m just saying, passed a few moments of “aww, love!” I don’t need to see someone get super schmaltzy on their sweetheart, in real life, or online, which brings me to the subject of this column. If you use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or one of the many social media platforms out there, chances are that you, like me, have been subjected to the brave new PDA. It’s a public display of affection that takes place online, in the form of social media posts or comments.
We’ve all got that friend, or multiple incarnations of that friend. You know the one. He’s the guy who’s created his own hashtag for his new special ladyfriend on Instagram. She’s the one who seems to have a macro on her Mac for “my amazing husband” when she types out his name in Facebook statuses. They’re the ones who are constantly checking into places together as if they’re conjoined twins, joined at the frontal lobe for life. These are couples, usually newly minted, who for whatever reason have decided to put their newfound love on display for all (who have internet access at home or on their smartphone) to see.
There are multiple layers of awkward that come with the brave new PDA, that I will helpfully break down for you now.
Stage 1: Are they or Aren’t they?
In this stage, you, the viewer, are usually left wondering “hey, is there something going on between so and so?” since person A and human B are all up in each other’s social media business. Sometimes these couples help you out with an informative relationship status update on Facebook, or with the aforementioned totally uncute new hashtag on Instagram.
Stage 2: They are, and they want everyone to know it
The next, and usually longest period of awkward is having to witness the continued declarations of love and attachment on every platform known to humanity, under the guise of romance. Now, while I may have my feet firmly entrenched in camp Single, I can admit to enjoying a bit of romanticisim from time to time. A sweet gesture, a thoughtful gift, real quality time spent with the person you care about; to me, that’s what romance is about. But constant declarations of love prefaced by pound signs, sappy pictures of clearly posed “selfie” kisses, or repeated statements of “my beautiful wife” or “my amazing husband” put on display for all your online friends and family to see represent an artifice that, to me, cheapens true love and romance.
While the intentions of these brave new PDAers may be entirely pure or at the very least blinded by their affections, to the outside observer (read, ME), it just seems fake, try hard, weird, or any number of other very non-romantic adjectives. Which makes things even MORE awkward when you get to the (usual) final stage of these situations: which brings me to my next point.
Stage 3: The slow fade to the complete wipeout
Some relationships end. It’s a fact of life that also affects relationships that have been put on full display on social media. The difference is, while you may have wanted to show off your love to everyone you’re connected with online, you’re now stuck telling that same audience that your relationship is now toast. And even if you try to keep it lowkey by not telling anyone overtly, trust me, we can figure it out. Slowly but sure, the tags stop, the photos dwindle, and the cutesy statuses turn bitter, angry and decidedly single. Then, usually, past photos disappear entirely, as evidenced by a once carefully curated feed looking disjointed and confused, much like the emotional state of its user. Romance turns rotten, love turns to hate, and pride turns to shame as the recently uncoupled do what’s necessary to cleanse their social media profiles of their past loves, even while still wearing their pain on their sleeves. When you put your relationship on display online, your breakup is just as awkward and torturous to you as your previous online PDAs were to the rest of us.
So what’s the lesson here folks? Try to keep the brave new PDAs to a minimum, if not for my sake, then for your ego’s own.
What do you think about the brave new PDA? Tweet your thoughts to @weraddicted today!