A man who proposed to his girlfriend on the social networking site Reddit has triggered serious backlash for his unique brand of romance.
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On Monday, Reddit user Malcolm Collins, 26, a graduate student in Palo Alto, California, proposed to his girlfriend Simone Smith by posting a gallery of humorous memes on Reddit's “Advice Animals” section under his user name SirTechnocracy. The memes bore messages such as “I used to have reservations about marriage and they’re gone” and “Brace yourself: A ring is coming.” It then linked to a secondary gallery that featured 18 art pieces commissioned from around the world. Each slide represented an intimate moment in the couple’s relationship—their first movie, their first date, and so forth.
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“I wanted to propose in a way that would be meaningful for both of us and Reddit is Simone’s favorite website,” Collins told Yahoo! Shine. “It was a tall order to be romantic online in such a public setting; however, I loved the idea of a slideshow that featured our special moments.”
Collins posted the slideshows at 7 a.m. and waited for the galleries to get “upvoted” to the front page of the social networking site (posts are prominently featured according to popularity). When Smith logged in to Reddit (her username is LadyTechnocracy), Collins heard her screams of delight and walked over with a 2-karat, center-diamond engagement ring. Smith said yes.
However, their joy was soon overshadowed by an onslaught of negative comments from the Reddit community. Toshibarokit wrote, “I’m holding out hope that this isn’t real”; SchecterShredder wrote, “It makes me sad that this worked”; and Sadnsassy wrote, “This is probably the most cringe-worthy thing I’ve seen thus far on Reddit." One blogger at Betabeat stated: “Love is dead,” in reference to the proposal.
The criticism largely focused on Collins's method of proposing — on a social networking forum, using memes. Despite the captive audience, commenters complained it was a little too tech-savvy to be romantic.
There were also lukewarm comments—“I’m happy she said yes…but I can’t think of a worse way to propose to someone” and “Good luck to both of you. I'm really glad she said yes. I don't think I would have accepted this type of proposal but to each their own.” Others were supportive: “Aww, who cares what people say. You found the one and did it your way. We should all be so lucky” and “Man, those commissioned pieces are pretty sweet. Good luck and a happy life for the both of you.”
By Tuesday morning, the story had generated almost 3,000 comments and so much controversy that Collins stepped in, responding to his critics almost 250 times. He wrote: “I wanted to blow her away. The art was a way for me to propose something tangible. Not just a ring but something she can hang on the walls and remember for years. True, many of the references may seem dated but they will always mean something to her and bring her back to today.” Smith also chimed in with, “This is the most romantic gesture I've ever received. Proposing over Reddit sure is unconventional, but I give SirTechnocracy major credit for proposing in the most meaningful (to me/us) place possible.”
Collins couldn’t be happier with his decision to propose publicly, casting critiques as run-of-the-mill Internet noise. “I expected people to have their opinions—everyone has something to say online,” he said. “There were also plenty of people who supported us.”
He added: “What people don’t understand is that the actual proposal was very private. The galleries were just a teaser to the main event. It’s true that we’re a little nerdy, but that just makes our relationship unique.”
Whether or not this proposal is cringe-worthy is subjective, but one thing is clear: Gone are the days when a man got down on bended knee in an upscale restaurant. Now, modern-day proposals resemble marketing campaigns, entailing staging fake plane crashes, flash mobs, or lip-dubbed Bruno Mars serenades, many of which have the potential to go viral and land on the morning talk-show circuit.
These grand gestures aren't expensive to pull off and are often fueled by a desire to stand out on social media and our obsession with gawking at people's most personal moments on reality television (thank you, "The Bachelor" franchise). However, like any other trend, will we ever burn out on these outrageous proposals? As long as hashtags are printed on wedding invitations and couples read their vows off their smartphones, most likely not.
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