If you wish your spouse a happy anniversary in the privacy of your own home, does it count? Apparently not. I’ve noticed an influx of wedding anniversary, humblebrag updates on Facebook lately. Here are a few favorite examples posted in the last month*:
“Five years ago this very day, I married the man I love. We danced to “L-O-V-E” as sung by Natalie Cole. Today, our anniversary, we plan to keep that dance going. Dearest Kevin, I do!”
“Happy 5th Anniversary to Carl, who supports me in the pursuit of my dreams, puts up with my quirks, and makes me coffee in the morning. Xoxo”
“Six years ago I married an amazing gal—my best friend and the best mother there is. She still makes me nervous when she walks in the room, and she only shares her French Fries with me. I love you, Tracy. Happy Anniversary.”
(This last one was written by a man who’s been married four times—just sayin’).
As with all humblebrags, these seem okay at first—thoughtful even. But when you peel back the first layer, you realize there is no reason to send a Facebook message to the person who lives with you unless the message isn’t really for that person, but rather everyone else in your news feed. Is it any less considerate if Carl reads the same note written on an index card hidden inside his briefcase? Once posted on Facebook it becomes, “Hey look who’s been married for five years. Me!” Or, as my friend Andy eloquently puts it, “This reads like: ‘Hey spinsters, suck it!’”
Bragging about your accomplishments—including an anniversary—isn’t a crime, but it can be indicative of things unsaid. Perhaps you’re trying to reassure yourself that everything is okay at home or you’re the one who needs a pat on the back for five years of matrimony. Last Valentine’s Day, a friend posted something like, “My husband came home to find a steak on the grill and the Sport Illustrated Swimsuit Edition on the kitchen table. Hope he likes it!” Or if he doesn’t like it, then maybe all the other husbands on Facebook will like it and that’ll make her feel good about her gift.
I am a firm believer that romantic relationships should stay off Facebook. (I realize I’m in the minority.) Photos are fine, but that’s as far as it should go. Conversation should stay between the parties. I will never update my relationship status—if you want to know if I’m single, attached, or acting complicated, you’ll have to ask. I have two reasons for that: 1) The relationship itself should validate you, not the act of making it public, and 2) ending a relationship is difficult enough without the added dimension of changing your status.
Humblebrags should also stay off Facebook. The best way to know if you’re humblebragging is to ask yourself, What am I really saying? If what you’re saying matches the sentence you’ve written, then go ahead. If there’s an underlying message, tell your therapist about it before you post.
I caught myself in a near-humblebrag on September 11th. I was going to Tweet something along the lines of “Heading to Trinity Church Wall Street with a good friend to commemorate this solemn day.” I realized what I was really saying was, “Hey, I’m going to commemorate 9/11, are you? And I am soooo brave to head toward Ground Zero when NYC is on high alert.” I opted against the Tweet and reminded myself there are certain sentiments that if they don’t mean anything in the privacy of your own mind, then they don’t mean anything at all.
Have you humblebragged lately?
*Details have been changed
Samara O’Shea has written for Marie Claire, Woman’s Day, Country Living, and The Huffington Post. Visit her at SamaraOShea.com.