Every time former US President Barack Obama drops a romantic note on social media, calling his wife Michelle his “best friend,” my heart inevitably flutters. For all of the eight years that they were in the White House, the Obamas set skyscraping standards of a married relationship built on equality.
Even beyond the tenure, a mutual display of their affection persists in the public eye, by way of social media, where the two don’t shy away from passing endearing love letters to each other. Yesterday, when they walked hand-in-hand for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris‘ Inauguration, the world got distracted by their chemistry, from the task at hand, even if it was for a split second.
Recently, as the former First Lady turned 57, her husband – in keeping with his annual tradition – wished her saying, “Happy birthday to my love, my partner, and my best friend. Every moment with you is a blessing. Love you, Miche.” And my heart, in keeping with its own annual tradition, fluttered. Albeit not without a chuckle this time.
Call it the amusing bitterness that comes with spending a long lockdown without anyone passing you love notes or an insightful awakening to how the internet age is changing our habits, I happened to momentarily pause in notice of the fact that the former President, who lives under the same roof as his wife, just wished Michelle Obama a ‘happy birthday’ on social media. Who then was his profession of love aimed at? His beloved Miche or lovesick netizens?
Happy birthday to my love, my partner, and my best friend. Every moment with you is a blessing. Love you, Miche. pic.twitter.com/BrtH0vwKk4
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) January 17, 2021
The Amusing Trend Of Wishing Someone Online, Sitting Beside Them
Don’t get me wrong. This is not an attempt at monitoring people’s social media activity or business. For all I care, couples could upload sappy selfies every day as mutual affirmations of their eternal togetherness. “Live and let live yaar” has forever been my motto to live by. Anyway, in this case, when I have admitted to endlessly, shamelessly swooning over the former First Couple’s online PDA, would it do me any good to suggest they stop? I hope for the rest of their, and my own, living days, the Obamas keep giving us a peek into their picture-perfect romance.
Nevertheless, if you think about it, isn’t the trend of wishing your better halves on social media, even as they sit beside you as you hit that ‘upload’ button, ludicrous? Not just limited to couples, this habit of marking personal celebratory milestones on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and elsewhere exists even between the connexions of siblings, friends, grandparents, parents, even teachers. In a bid for what? Genuine affection for them? Probably. Validation through likes for the said genuine affection? Most probably.
As a former wannabe-cool, impressionable teen, I have had my own fair share of these trend participations. I have no shame in admitting that I once even wished my parents, both of whom lack a presence on Instagram, a “very happy anniversary” on Instagram. A lot of friends in my social circles too have done that, and some continue to do so even now. (Yes, if I’m going down, I’m taking everyone with me.)
Ludicrous Or Cute?
As it turns out, a study titled Can You Tell That I’m in a Relationship? Attachment and Relationship Visibility on Facebook comprises damning evidence against couples that bombard our feeds with cutesy photos. Published in 2014, it interestingly states that couples who post too much about their ‘baes’ online are reportedly masking relationship insecurity. How far then are posts on birthdays and anniversaries authentic? Is there a deeper anxiety that drives us to post for those we live with, in the same house? An anniversary wish for a partner or birthday wish for a parent: are they notifications to our friend circles on Instagram about how our lives and celebrations look like?
As the poster face of singlehood, it should pain me every time social media thrusts photos or stories of companionship in my face, as it is doing now with Twitter’s #WeMetOnTwitter trend, where couples are sharing heartwarming tales of love that sparked online. But guess what? It doesn’t. As a full-time romantic ODing on romance always, I enjoy these slices of other people’s lives. As I do when friends share stories of what they eat or where they go on Instagram. Maybe I’m nosy, or maybe I take these occurrences in the light-hearted spirit that they should be taken in.
The Obamas, public personalities to most and sweethearts to many, may find social media posts to be one of the ways in which to persevere their high-profile relationship online for their audience that eagerly awaits them. But millions of other couples, far less famous and with far longer marriages than the Obamas, too are displaying their love on our social media feeds. It may be irksome at times, repetitive, or even vain. But it’s love. And the world can never have too much of it, both online and off. As long as we’re all still talking once we look up from our screens.
Views expressed are the author’s own.
Image Credit: Barack Obama/Instagram