My girlfriend is threatening to break up with me unless I start posting more on Instagram. She says it is important that I look cool for her friends to see. At least 5 more posts per week she said is the minimum. Is this right of her? What do I do?
Dear Shutter Bugged,
That seems like an awful situation to be in, truly awful. I don’t personally understand the need for your relationship to be showcased on a social media platform. What does she get from this? Have you asked her? Why do you need to look cool? What does looking cool actually accomplish? There are a ton of questions here that you really should be asking her before you pose this question to a public forum. The simple, gut instinct answer is, no. No, it’s not right and she has no right to impose this kind of parameter on your relationship. Very odd. Why does the relationship have to be broadcast? Why can’t it be quiet?
There is absolutely nothing wrong or bad about being quiet. Being quiet, listening to and observing the world around you is a good thing. Thinking before you speak, making sure you have something to say or something to add to the conversation is also a good thing. This a great proverb; “A wise man will be of few words: A fool may gain the reputation of being wise if he have but wit enough to hold his tongue.” Also this one I like: “A wise man thinks much, sees much and speaks little. A foolish man speaks more than he either sees or thinks.” And of course; “even a fool is considered wise if he keeps silent.” There are a lot of proverbs, sayings, wise words that revolve around being silent, listening more than you speak. There are examples of it all over literature and politics and art. So, do not think it’s wrong or bad. If you feel natural and comfortable being silent and not making your relationship a public spectacle then do what you feel is right.
I think it’s a product of the times. People look at those of us who chose to remain quiet, keep our personal relationships personal, who choose to listen more than we speak as being suspect. Think about it, we’re a ‘social media' society now. People have Instagram accounts that are just pictures of themselves, people tweet about any thought or lack of thought, that pops into their minds and believe the world should know it and hear it. People even take pictures of their food and send those out to the world. We live in a time where everyone vomits up every fact, notion, idea, thought about themselves and they expect others to do the same. In that kind of world, the ones who listen, the ones who remain quiet will, of course, be looked upon as being odd. Being on the outside. So, the world, in all its rush to gain followers and friends, in this social machine, does not understand the beauty of silence or the wisdom of being quiet and just being present. The machine feeds on voices squawking and pictures being taken and look at me, I did this, I think this, I feel this, look at me. Those are the rules, talk, talk, talk, self promote, tweet, text, look at your phone more than at the faces of the people around your table. Listen for your ring tone more than the words of the poet. So, it makes sense that she would think the relationship needs to be this public entity to be cool, in this case, you would think there is something wrong with being quiet about the relationship. There is not. Listen and be. Breathe and accept. Hear. Be present and offer only what you feel comfortable offering. Do not let the machine demand your voice when you’re not interested in lending your voice. She is wrong and she shouldn’t be this kind of demanding with you. What can you do? Live life the way you want, the way you feel is authentic and true and, if she’s not good with that, let her go. I hope that helps.