In the age of social media, dating can seem simple — connecting to people online is as quick as the click of a button (or a swipe right). But connecting with someone can be a different story, and the barrier of screens provides an easy out. You’re likely to get ghosted. Then, the person who’s ghosted you still creeps on your Instagram and watches your snapchats, i.e. orbiting. Now, there’s a new concept you most definitely know all too well: Gatsbying.
Gatsbying is named after the West Egg rags-to-riches millionaire Jay Gatsby from the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic The Great Gatsby.
To put it simply, Gatsbying refers to showing off for attention. And, instead of lavish parties for dames named Daisy, you use your posts on social media to catch your crush’s eye.
As Australian model Matilda Dods writes for the lifestyle blog Tomboy, “Why, instead of just sending a text to the boy that I like, am I throwing the equivalent of a champagne-soaked, chandelier-swinging, Charleston-dancing party on my Instagram story?”
Gatsbying, as Dods explains, is all about posting “a video, picture or selfie to public social media purely for a love interest to see it.”
Dods describes the process. You’re out with your friends enjoying wine and lipstick smiles all around. You pull out your phone and take a video. “20 minutes later you pull your phone out again, and immediately check to see if ‘they’ve’ seen it. You know who ‘they’ are.” This, of course, is for the purpose of getting “that ceaseless green light across the water” — or the modern-day equivalent.
Gatsbying: Do it, but try to keep it real
Though some people are calling this a “bizarre” trend, it makes sense.
Showcasing our lives through these channels has become part of our culture. Plus, seven in 10 Americans use social media to connect with one another, so uploading a photo for the purpose of attention is a no-brainer.
It all sounds very similar to “breadcrumbing,” which Urban Dictionary explains is the “act of sending out flirtatious, but non-committal text messages (i.e ‘breadcrumbs’) … to lure a sexual partner without expending much effort.” Gatsbying, however, is more subtle in its execution and takes more effort to pull off.
One Metro staffer who’s currently in a relationship, told me that she isn’t an avid social media user, but she “definitely” posted more often when she was dating or “looking for someone.”
“I would make it a point to post a selfie,” she said, “or me out with my friends to kind of give the impression that I’m constantly doing something. Especially when it comes to an ex, I always made sure to post something that said ‘look how great I’m doing and all the fun I’m having.'”
“You kind of do it subconsciously,” she added, “because I feel like it’s sometimes in our nature to want to appear that we live better lives.”
She’s right: If you think about it, although you’re (hopefully) posting on social media for your own benefit, the likes and comments from followers are an incentive to keep with it. And, it’s all too easy to use this platform to enhance our lives for outsiders even if that doesn’t hold true behind the scenes.
After all is said and done, make sure that if you are Gatsbying someone, you’re staying true to the moment — you’re actually doing well and you’re having fun in the photo you send out into the digital abyss — so that when your very own Daisy Buchanan hits you with, “You always look so cool,” you can reply in all confidence, “Because I am.”