St-Victor: As Valentine's Day nears, beware the perils of Instagram

Let’s not allow hashtags and social media posts to dictate what love is supposed to look like.

Article content

Since 2021, one of the most popular shows on Quebec television has been Big Brother Célébrités. The show is our version of the European original concept, also popular and reprised in the United States and in the rest of Canada in English. 

The premise of the show is simple though head-scratching to me. Celebrities are secluded in a house where there are cameras and mics at every possible turn. Through a series of challenges, celebrity after celebrity is kicked out of the house, until the last one is left standing. It’s survival of the sneakiest.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Article content

Two weeks ago, by inadvertence, I started to watch an episode. I lasted four minutes. Mostly because all I could think was: “I shouldn’t be seeing this.” 

Facebook recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. It is owned by Meta, the social media mammoth that also owns Instagram, the photo and video sharing app used by 57 per cent of Canadians, statistics confirm. Facebook shows no signs of slowing down, at least not in Canada, where it is projected that by 2027, 35 million of us will be using it — 5 million more than today.

If for most, social media is a way to stay connected to friends and family, for public figures such as artists and politicians, it is the perfect tool to project a well-manicured image. It offers total control over what they want to convey and sometimes serves as a shield or counterpoint to what traditional media might be reporting.

Participants of the Big Brother experiment have no control over content, which is why I don’t understand why celebrities would partake in it and risk whatever image they might have spent years building. 

There are pitfalls, too, for consumers to being able to access curated content from influential figures and others who have the power to guide social codes and behaviours. Social media trends are often to our detriment.  

Advertisement 3

Article content

Valentine’s Day is around the corner. I have nothing against Feb. 14, but it shouldn’t dictate what love should look like. On social media, though, that’s exactly how it plays out, with public figures parading how they spent their day in full splendour and extravagance. Get ready for photos of enormous bouquets, new cars decorated with giant red bows, fresh ill-advised heart-shaped tattoos, and more. 

Such comportments are what have fed the very popular hashtag #couplegoals — a suggested ideal of what couples should be. It has also crept up when people get engaged. “Would you marry me?” no longer seems enough. It appears the would-be fiancé must now pop the question while hanging upside down from a helicopter hovering over the most romantic spot in town while a videographer captures the moment so it can be shared (and judged) on Instagram.

All this pageantry has in no way made coupling or staying together any easier. On the contrary. The multiplication of dating apps confirms that meeting that someone special can seem like Mission Impossible, and the sense of having to pull stunts à la Tom Cruise to keep the love alive can have the opposite effect. 

My aunt and uncle have been happily married for over 40 years. As a ring bearer at their wedding, I’ve always felt a certain proximity to their love. I recently asked my aunt the secret to the longevity of their union. Her response? “Be patient, pretend not to hear some of the things your better half says, don’t compare your couple to others, and don’t treat social media like it were a diary.”

Ah-ha! There it is. Common sense. A good reminder for all of us. I’ll take my aunt’s advice. Maybe I’ll even share it on Instagram.

Martine St-Victor is the general manager of Edelman Montreal and a media commentator. Instagram and X @martinemontreal

Recommended from Editorial

Advertisement 4

Article content

Article content