Cocktail Crossfire: Are Internet Marriage Proposals Acceptable?

We've now seen two Internet marriage proposals in just a few weeks, one on Mashable another on BuzzFeed. Is this an acceptable way to ask for someone's hand in marriage? We discuss. 

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We've now seen two Internet marriage proposals in just a few weeks, one on Mashable another on BuzzFeed. Is this an acceptable way to ask for someone's hand in marriage? We discuss.

Yes! Stop judging. Accept it. Move on. 

It's sweet and thoughtful. Future husband(s): This is not my ideal proposal. But for some women out there, it is! It took Drake Martinet, who Internet-proposed to his now fiancee Stacey Green, more time and brain neurons to create this infographic than it takes to buy an engagement ring, go to a fancy restaurant, and ask "the question." Points for effort. Plus, I bet a lot of these online declarations represent some sort of cute personalized moment between these couples. Maybe Martinet and Green have some infographic inside (sex) joke? That makes it a little bit sweeter, right? And, even if zero inside jokes are involved, the Internet proposer goes into it knowing that this type of thing is not yet socially acceptable and most definitely embarrassing, yet, still goes through it anyway! Now that's true love.

Internet proposals are not any more absurd than real life ones.  There are lots of over-the-top ways to propose to someone in real life, too. Like, ordering a 7 ounce steak branded with "Will You Marry Me?" making a proposal trailer and playing it in a movie theater, or via flash mob, just to give some examples. Internet or not, cringe worthy proposals happen.

Just accept it, we live on the Internet these days. We date online. We socialize online. We watch TV online. We read online. We work online. And, some even have sex, or facilitate something like it, online. The Internet isn't just some B-list society for computer nerds and freaks. It's a world we, the normals, inhabit. If it's totally acceptable to live the rest of our lives on this here web, marriage proposals can happen online, too. In fact, with the rest of our lives here, the cyber world is the most natural place to get proposed to now-a-days -- the Internet is our modern village. A proposal is supposed to be the public declaration of that union. Back in the olden-days that meant a community celebration, these days, the Internet is our public arena, thus the most logical place to tell the world how much you love that special someone. And, the entire world will indeed hear, because, well, this is the Internet.

—Rebecca Greenfield

No, no, no, no, no, no. And NO.

Once upon a time, a long, long, time ago, a tiny girl dreamed of her perfect proposal. Her prince would turn on his MacBookPro, load up Google Chrome, and upload his request to the World Wide Web that she be his forever. Perhaps he would put it on his Tumblr, or ask by Twitter. Maybe he would enlist the help of an established website which he hope might perhaps function as a community coordinator to promote his cause. Ideally, he would include a GIF, the modern-day equivalent of more-than-1-karat rock! A girl, after all, can dream. And if your request to marry someone isn't streaming across the planet in real time and possibly even going viral, do you really mean it?

The growing popularity of the Internet proposal makes me sad for the days of the Jumbotron proposal, in which some unwitting woman sat next to a different-sort-of unwitting man as he announced his desire to be her husband and the big screen panned, in awaiting the response, showcasing it as an early sort of reality short. There is only one right response in this manipulation, meaning the viewer sometimes is plagued with dark hopes that the proposed-to says no, simply because it seems so unfair.

You know what your Internet proposal does? It puts someone on the spot. It means he or she can't say no without being (digitally) yelled at by all sorts of random people who don't know a thing about the relationship or even the proposal, aside from the fact that it's on the Internet, which means it's theirs as much as yours. Do you want to share your special day with all of those weirdos? An Internet proposal takes what could be a sweet, authentic, and personal moment and splays it out for the world to react to. At best, it's over-sharing. At worst, it's kind of braggy, and at the same time, trying so hard. Why does this blogger get to even talk about this, so judgmentally so, on the Internet? Because people are proposing on the Internet.

Just because we do other stuff online (and maybe we shouldn't as much as we do, says the blogger), some things, some things, should be held sacred, or nominally so, and if not sacred, maybe they simply shouldn't be used to pimp out page views. It's not so much whether marriage proposals belong on the Internet. It's the question of whether romance, once meme-ed out and used to generate web traffic, even really counts as romance at all. So little is private in this world, with that window narrowing by the day. And, fine, we do a lot of stuff on the Internet, and maybe that's not all bad. But pimping out our proposals for the world to see and comment on seems, well, a bit tacky. Who cares if your proposal is "Cute" or "WTF"? (She said yes, so, congrats, guy: Regardless of my feeling about this, I am happy for you two lovebirds.)

Still, I come down on anti-grand-gestures side for wedding proposals, because the commitment itself should be the grand gesture. You're promising someone you'll love them forever, and asking them to do the same for you. Do you really need to add bells and whistles to that? Don't they, in some way, take away from the meaning of what you're really asking?

Then again, if the Internet is paying for the wedding, it can do whatever it wants. As for the couples who have recently proposed via this newfangled medium, I do wish you the best, and hope you're getting at least an LOLcat cake or something.

—Jen Doll

Images via Shutterstock by auremar (top) and via BuzzFeed.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.