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There’s a trend I’ve observed in my hours spent mindlessly scrolling through social media outlets.

It’s a disappearing act of sorts.

Over the holidays, there was an explosion of engagements across my friends list.

“Congratulations!” I typed to closer friends.

Social media has made us extra curious about others – and much more eager to share about ourselves. I find myself checking in on people whose names just pop back into my head after 10 or 15 years. It’s easy to look them up, and it’s easy to keep up with friends and their nuptials from a distance.

Nowhere near to marriage myself, I love watching friends sharing decisions about venues, colors, and even the wedding party get posted – not to mention pictures of the ring.

And then, sometimes, it just suddenly stops.

I remember the first time I encountered this engagement enigma.

A high school friend had decided to put a ring on it. He asked, she said yes, and they both put the whole engagement and planning process out there for us, their high school classmates, to see.

We watched, some of us eager to see if we were invited.

They discussed venues, dates, colors, flowers, shoes, all the details. The bride-to-be pined after an expensive pair of rhinestone encrusted pumps, posting a photo as if to let out a dreamy digital sigh, and the groom-to-be chimed in, urging her to purchase her dream shoes.

I was impressed. Though I’d likely never spend $500 on a pair of shoes I’d only plan to wear once myself, I was heartened by the groom-to-be’s insistence that his bride have whatever her heart desired. Off to a good start, I thought.

A few months later, I began to wonder how their wedding planning was coming along. The suspense was straight out of a soap opera: did she get the shoes?!

She didn’t.

And they didn’t get hitched.

Quietly, all wedding-related references disappeared. No more fawning fiancé-related  posts. No more lusting after diamond-studded shoes. Both had made an effort to try to restore their online presence to a time before that life-changing question was asked – a modern problem, for sure.

I’ve seen this happen not just once, but four times, and most recently over the holidays. Instead of watching a friend’s sister post Harry Potter-themed wedding ideas to her page, instead she shared an article titled “10 Signs of Abuse Disguised as Love.” The next day, the friend posted a selfie, looking ahead to the new year, and a new outlook, hinting at her singleness.

In an age where becoming “Facebook official” means something entirely different than just being in a relationship, sometimes, our eagerness to share turns on us. We’re left cleaning up the pixels when we quietly change our status back to “single,” and it’s just a little harder for us, and our friends, to forget.

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Katharine Lotze
Katharine Lotze is a photojournalist and columnist at the Signal, and can be found photographing daily life in Santa Clarita, or writing personal essays about her own daily life.
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