The print edition of yesterday’s Hartford Courant, by way of the Washington Post, reports on a ‘trend’ that reeks of the worst aspects of a “me, me, ME” society and leaves us disgusted: exultant “divorce selfies.”
Take a look at some of these photos. The bugged-out eyes, the taut (forced?) smiles, the way-too-chipper, goofy, flighty captions…does anybody else find this more than a little creepy? Who’s trying to convince whom?
All of them, of course, are posted to Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram, the natural habitat of such empty-calories sentimental bonbons as “We smile not because it’s over, but because it happened.” That’s nice, for a greeting card, or a high school yearbook. But the end of your marriage? One woman wrote in response to a skeptical inquirer, “Our time thriving together was fading and now we are able to step forward on separate paths.” This, frankly, reminds me of contrived, unnatural dialogue in movies or magazines. It’s not normal for real people to talk like this.
Most of the time I avoid criticizing divorcing couples because one rarely, if ever, knows all the circumstances; I can understand being relieved if your spouse is, say, Ray Rice or Peter Cook (the kind of “hard cases” that opponents of ours rant about come election time when they have to make us look like the bogeyman). But if your divorce is so friggin’ amicable that you are standing together and grinning from ear to ear, why exactly would it have been so hard to work out your differences, rather than throwing in the towel? This makes no sense. Or rather, it only makes sense only in a culture where we habitually throw away what we have no further use for. Including those we vowed to love above all others. These selfies make a compelling argument for both pre-marital and mandatory pre-divorce counseling.
It’s telling that none of the snapshots include children who might be less than thrilled that their parents are splitting like atoms in a collider. That wouldn’t look good for the camera. What a slap in the face to every person who has ever experienced the pain and trauma of divorce, especially as a child.
Divorce isn’t silly, it isn’t funny, it isn’t happy. In a fractured, ailing world it may at times be something of a necessary evil, but it’s still a sign that something has gone awry — not a cause for celebration.