This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.
The colloquialism, “There’s plenty of fish in the sea” has probably never been as relevant as it is today. Dating in the 21st century has us moving through a tidal wave, not only of toxic mentalities and antiquated relationship ideals, but also plastic social media personalities. It can be hard for a tiny fish to find companionship amongst the vast bleached-white reef that is our dating landscape.
Just ask Rosie, a 22-year-old student who went viral after she edited the captions on photos with her exes on her Instagram to truly reflect what was going on beneath the surface. Her honest Twitter post of the series garnered support for questioning seemingly perfect couples who were doing it all for the ‘gram.
We spoke to Rosie to find out what really went on behind the scenes of the viral post, and learnt about the people she helped along the way.
Your photos have gone viral! Can you tell us more about what you did, exactly?
R: I just happened to be going through my Instagram archive — basically those that you hide from your profile — and saw these pictures I had with people I had previously dated that I wanted to display again on my profile. These pictures are from awhile ago, and I’ve moved on since. We don’t talk or keep in contact besides being Facebook friends.
I cherish the memories, so I didn’t want to delete the photos nor the original caption. I wanted to keep these pictures that I love while acknowledging that I no longer love the people in the picture with me. Instead, I decided to edit the caption with a short phrase indicating that things have changed since. And then, I tweeted about it because I thought it would make a funny, lighthearted post about something that can be — and was, for me — very painful!
Have any of your exes gotten in touch with you since the story blew up? What did they say?
R: One did — he messaged to apologize for the things he did that had deeply hurt me.
What types of comments are you receiving from people?
R: Quite a mixed bag. I think a lot of people have different opinions about how one should move on from a relationship. There are a lot of people who find the post empowering and say that they want to do the same thing, or did, which I’ve shared on my tweets. And there are others who find the post immature and vengeful, and I can understand where they’re coming from too. Everyone copes with a breakup in different ways. An edited instagram caption isn’t for everyone.
What’s it like knowing you’ve helped a lot of women cope with their past in a healthy way?
R: I can’t tell you how many stories have been shared with me about painful, toxic relationships since, and how being able to edit captions to share the ugly truth has been a sort of release to them. Through sharing these edits, there’s a sense of solidarity between all of us who have suffered from traumatic relationships, men and women alike. You can see Cass’s post about how she was engaged to someone who was incredibly abusive and hurtful, but they are no longer together and she’s doing much better.
For a lot of us, deleting pictures and trying to forget about what’s happened doesn’t work, when it was so traumatic that it is still etched in our memories. So we find strength and healing in keeping these pictures and memories, but acknowledging how we have changed from them. Even if my post had just resonated with one woman, it would have been rewarding for me. But the fact that it has been able to do so for thousands means everything.
You mention that you have no regrets dating your exes, what advice do you have for women who want to move on the same way you did?
R: I think it’s important to be able to find something positive in every experience we have, even bad ones. And when I think back on my failed relationships, I try to focus on the things I was able to learn as a result of the relationship and how I’ve grown from it. Every heartbreak teaches us a little about ourselves and helps us understand what we want and what we deserve. I’m thankful for every experience I’ve had, because I’m happy where I am today and those experiences helped me get here.
I also want to tell others to keep believing in love and know they deserve it, despite experiences that have made them feel otherwise. And that love doesn’t just come in the form of romantic relationships, but also friends, family, and more. I have so much love in my life and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
I’m guessing you weren’t expecting the attention the tweets received. How has your life changed after you became an overnight martyr for calling out shitty dates?
R: I have gotten a lot of messages from people, and have made a handful of friendships with some of them, but otherwise I don’t think my life has changed at all! I still do the same things every day, I go to school, eat with my friends, sing in the shower, tell my family I love them, rinse and repeat. I didn’t really expect the post to go viral, otherwise I probably would have blurred out the faces of the people I was pictured with, because I didn’t make the post with the intention of harming them.
How has your dating life changed since the photos?
R: It hasn’t! I am still single and happily so.