When I got asked to prom it was via text and I didn’t even have his number saved

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My junior year of high school, I received a text about two weeks before prom saying “Hey it’s Sean. Prom?” I didn’t even know which Sean was asking me and had to use process of elimination through who had already asked who (which was almost everyone, thanks a lot Sean). By senior year of high school (2013), my boyfriend of the time had come up with a creative way to ask me to prom as people started posting their ~~promposals~~ on social media. Currently in 2017, it seems promposals have been taken to a whole new level, and actually upped the ante for marriage proposals.

Social Media Pressure on Promposals

It’s hard enough to put yourself out there and ask someone to prom, or better yet to marry you.  As the hype around proposals has increased, so too has the potential foScreen Shot 2017-03-29 at 8.13.48 PMr increased social pressure and humiliation. Jarrod Chin, director of training at Northeastern Sporty in Society, stated “As promposal clips go viral, more and more young people think that you need to create these elaborate schemes to ask someone to prom and the reality is that it should be just a fun event for young people to dance and celebrate.”

Promposals circulate Youtube and Instagram pages to show how others have been asked to prom. Some are more elaborate than most marriage proposals.

So what does this mean?

For one, it means that in addition to the pressure and money spent on a prom originally, there is an added expense with the promposal. Keep in mind that means adding more money to the estimated $530 budget average for girls, and $250 average for boys. It makes the focus more on how a person is getting asked to the dance rather than who they’re going with. For those who are asking a date to prom, it means that planning has to happen months in advance. Online forums I researched about promposals suggest planning at least four months in advance, in addition to asking the date’s friends for help AND trying to make sure he/she actually wants to go with you first. That’s a lot of planning compared to my text two weeks before my junior year prom.

Additionally, think about the pressure to share on social media. My little cousin Luke attends high school near BC, and is currently 16 years old. He doesn’t have prom until next year, but he told me that his friends have already started to talk about what they want to do when they ask dates to prom next year (yes, I do mean in 2018). When I asked him if he felt like he would let his date down if the proposal wasn’t cool enough, he said “Definitely. I’ve talked to girls who think a show is necessary for some reason. I feel like social media isn’t necessarily the driving force, just being able to show off in general the sign with a bad pun and getting attention for it seems to be pretty important.”

This isn’t all about prom, either. Marriage proposals and other major life events have been paraded all over social media. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to share parts of your life with your social media friends, but social media certainly has changed the way we treat a marriage proposal and a wedding. When a family friend of mine got engaged, one of the first questions asked of me was if I had any good ideas for her wedding hashtag. My question for millennials is if you asked your high school girlfriend to prom with an elaborate scavenger hunt or by the beach at sunset – how exactly do you plan to ask your future girlfriend to marry you say ten years from now? The first question family and friends always seem to ask is “how did he ask you?”, so I wonder if it will top the high school scheming.

Gender Reveals

It’s not just marriage and prom proposals that have been taken over social media by storm. Gender reveals are hitting Facebook with people cutting into a blue or pink cake, or opening a box to release pink or blue balloons. Remember when you found out the gender of your baby at the doctors office like a normal person, and celebrated with your significant other? Don’t think it will be that easy when you have your first (or next) child. Watch this Youtube video which shows a bizarrely extensive gender reveal – and let me know if you can top it.

Sure, it may be cute to take a video telling your significant other or the older siblings about the gender of their new baby brother or sister like this one. But having an entire party dedicated to the unveiling or creating a Youtube video like the first one above should not be expected of you. Social media is meant for sharing, but there are more much simple ways to announce the gender of your child – or you don’t have to at all! There should not be so much pressure to share the intimidate details of your family life on social media.

 

So maybe I’m naive to the romanticism of having a public proposal to prom or marriage, or announcing the gender of a baby with a huge party or Youtube video. What I want to point out in this post is how public so much of our personal lives have become. Parents on Facebook Live are sharing their kids practicing for lacrosse, or baking cookies together. What used to just be family memories are now becoming public memories. I’m not sure of the exact implications of this down the road, but I’d be curious to know others in the comment section below – and please share any elaborate proposals/reveals you’ve experienced too :).

10 comments

  1. Great post! I’m always so sucked into the videos/pictures of engagements and especially of gender reveals because I find them so fun, but I totally agree that they’re taking the focus away from the couple/moment in attempts to make something worthy of social media. That gender reveal video is insane! It must’ve taken weeks to plan and probably even days to build! I definitely think that gender reveals and things of the sort are fun for the family/friends to get involved in but I think once you’re planning something in attempts to go viral, or even if you’re putting it on youtube or a bigger platform like that, you may be focusing too much on the wrong things. My professor last year revealed the fact that him & his wife were expecting their second child (due on Halloween) by sending a video to their family members asking their older son “What are you going to be for Halloween” and him responding “A big brother!!” They followed it up with an email with an attached graphic image mirroring the sentiment, which went out to more friends & my professor’s class listservs. I thought it was a really cute way to join in on the ‘reveal’ trend without going overboard–they didn’t spend any money, they didn’t try to go viral, and they kept it to a closed network.

  2. This was a great post! It is amazing how with time people are sharing more and more of their personal lives on social media, and with younger generations, this is just becoming more and more prevalent. I met one of my friends from Israel, who came to the U.S. for a visit recently, and he asked me for some advice (not that I’ve been engaged before or anything), on how exactly he should propose to his girlfriend without letting her suspect anything, and yet still make up the right excuse so that she can arrive to the location set in her best outfit, since he planned to have it go viral. He had thought of three different ways, and asked me for my opinion, and all I could think to myself is why not try to be as natural as possible, and whatever she wears doesn’t really matter that much – but of course social media matters more! And so yes, I definitely agree that family memories are turning into public memories, and with the prevalence of social media and public affirmation I think this is just the beginning.

  3. mollyshields44 · ·

    I think you really hit an important social insight with this post. It is one thing to have a moment like a proposal, promposal, or gender reveal be thought out and special for the person on the other end. It is another thing for people to plan these events for the purpose of receiving a high number of likes. You said it really well that the event of asking is becoming more important, in the eyes of the public, than the actual meaning behind the event (i.e. a marriage or a new child). I would always joke with my high school friends that promposals would make for a great prank show. Similar to Punk’d with Ashton Kutcher, there would be a prank and at the end someone would jump out and say “you just got Prom’d!” and ask the person to be their date to the dance. It sounded like a better business venture in high school…

    I agree with Danni though that a video or picture meant to tell friends, verses go viral, can be a fun way to share good news. When my parents got engaged they told their close friends at a dinner party with fortune cookies that said “Chuck and Kathy are engaged.” Facebook and Instagram were obviously not around at that time but I think if that situation were to happen now it would definitely be uploaded either by my parents or their friends wanting to share the story. I think there is a line between creating something special for the people involved and creating something to project a specific image to your social media following.

  4. did you see the series of Beauty and the Beast promposals that followed the release of the disney remake in march? https://twitter.com/valxfranco/status/845847220352016384 I used to be so embarrassed of these public performances that my first fight with my high school boyfriend was because of a v-day singing gram he sent me in class. It’s so interesting how in the last few years, these events that are very intimate in nature came to be a kind of spectacle to share with the world. Your question on how proposals will take place ten years from now got me thinking, and I felt like somehow we will find a way back to the genuine emotional intimacy because by then, we might be tired of the show aspect and vitality of a long-standing social tradition. Even now, I find myself asking how personally meaningful these pro(m)posals are because it often seems like they’re “doing it for the gram.”

  5. isabel_calo1 · ·

    Great post which makes me think about the true reason behind these elaborate shows. This is what the world has come to, showing off on social media and the slogan, “do it for the vine” is still alive because it is now do it for the snapchat, Instagram, youtube video, and Facebook post. There is a line between a nice and thought proposal or regular proposal, but then anything more is just excessive and definitely used to grab media attention. I agree that these events are getting uncontrollable and it is also a necessity to ask in an elaborate way so they can post on Facebook and show theirs friends. As we discussed in class, this also comes with the fact that social media is being used very differently by the younger generation.

  6. lenskubal · ·

    Great post! I am sorry about your unfortunate promposal experience junior year of high school.. that is tough. However, I loved this blog post and really thought you shed some light on a huge social media trend. Although I have found myself watching several of the videos you talked about, I agree that they are taking away from the “in the moment” experience, as well as adding social pressures. Sometimes, I do think about how these types of social media practices can be used for good. I personally love the gender reveals.. They seem like a good way to announce exciting news, especially to friends and family that you are not in touch with every day.

    Here is my favorite: http://www.whas11.com/news/watch-mississippi-baseball-coach-gets-a-baseball-themed-gender-reveal/406752676

    I think many of the promposals and videos of that nature are intended to go viral. The people that post those kinds of videos are not trying to keep in touch with friends and family. This is where the social pressures really exist. I think there is a fine line between creating something special for friends and family, and attempting to bolster your image on social media.

  7. zfarkas17 · ·

    Really good post. I remember asking people to prom and trying to think of creative ways, Im glad I wasn’t worrying about social media though. I was never that elaborate. I dont mind over the top promposals, I think in and of themselves they can be fun and personal, but I dont really see the point in doing them purely for the likes on social media. I agree that it seems we are sharing more and more personal memories with the world as public memories.

  8. diiorion · ·

    Luckily, my high school girlfriend wasn’t mad at me when I didn’t go all out with asking her to prom. But I’m sure now with the popularity of the promposals all over social media, it’s become expected. And if it doesn’t happen, I could actually see some people saying no until the proposal is good enough! It has definitely skyrocketed expectations and I’m sure glad I’m past the stage of having to worry about that (at least until an actual proposal!)

    As for the gender reveals, I remember seeing my very first one and it wasn’t done up or anything to go viral. It just looked like a family home video that had grown popular and I remember thinking “Huh, that’s a cool idea.” And now, they have completely jumped the shark. Especially the ones as elaborate as the one you included. I HATE them. That’s something that I feel should be an intimate moment, not something to be exploited for Internet popularity.

  9. Hey, great post. I do think it’s interesting that as life becomes more transparent, there is the need to make a bigger splash with announcements. Of course, sometimes making a big deal about the promposals even happened back in my day, but the audience was much smaller.

  10. benrmcarthur · ·

    Great post! I think you touched on something that doesn’t get brought up a lot. In reading this, it seems like the need or just integration with social media starts with the whole “promposal” normalization. Big announcements in one’s life are sort of expected to be put on media, so it makes sense that people are always trying to go bigger and better with new ideas to ask for another’s hand in marriage or reveal the gender of a baby. It’s all over Facebook, all the time. To give my own 2 cents, I think the move it to keep it genuine without the intent to share some elaborate plan. For example, my brother recently proposed to his girlfriend the other week and a 10-year old photographer in the park where he proposed just happened to catch the events on film. Through Facebook he was able to post the pictures and eventually find my brother’s contact info to give him the proofs. The local news even made a story about the whole connection. It was nice to see the big event still get publicity in a “by-chance” type of scenario.

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