All That Glitters Is Not Gold.
Sorry to burst y’all’s bubbles. But life, even with all its glorious highs, is never a fairytale. (It can be better than a fairytale sometimes, but that’s for another blog.)
Today I was confronted by another beautifully documented, glittering glossy story about young love gone viral on the inter-webs. It turns out that this girl found a wonderful boy, and has been tweeting updates about their relationship since November. And the story has a “happily ever after”! They got married! Twu wuv!
Since their twitter thread went viral, Mashable wrote an article about it, and Deseret News, and, LDSLiving and…. you get the picture.
How often have we all seen that young couple with those perfect pictures and adorable updates constantly popping up on our facebook/instagram/twitter account to feed our fantasies of romance. And those glorified bloggers with elegantly dainty treats that actually came out like the pictures on pinterest, and their adorable children with designer outfits, no stains, and every hair in place. It either inspires hope, or depression about your own life—or both. But it rarely aligns with the realities we’ve all witnessed and been apart of; it’s not real. It’s “lifestyle porn.” If you’re unfamiliar with that concept and the issues it incites, Mormon blogger, Mike Thayer, recently shared some thoughtful insight about lifestyle porn, making some good points (particularly on its place in the Mormon and Utah culture). Google also says lots of interesting stuff about it.
And then there are girls like Essena O’Neill, Rebecca Pearson, and Sara Puhto, to name a few, who have come out to expose the realities behind the social media facades to which so many of us have aspired to live, even if for only one moment or two (admit it, you felt that tinge of determination for a split second at one point or another upon looking at some “lifestyle porn”).
Anyway, needless to say, it’s pretty, but lifestyle porn is creating false expectations, often to a very damaging degree—hence the term “porn.” But I won’t write about that, because it’s already been written about (and, as I said, can be found all over through the google gods).
What I want to demonstrate here though, is that indulging in this lifestyle porn is not only damaging to our own lives, but also extremely hurtful to those individuals who live in the realities hidden behind the fantasies. It really is porn in every sense of the word.
So, you remember that adorable girl who found that adorable boy and their “adorable twitter thread,” as the Deseret News (a subsidiary of a holding company owned by the LDS church) called it. And I’m sure by now you’ve checked out the twitter thread that LDSLiving described it as, “the true love story,” “of two Mormons who chronicled their relationship,” and “share little bits about their faith.” It’s a friggin’ “modern day version of ‘The Notebook,’” said Mashable.
[Edit: to see what the articles are all about, Bella Naija archived the original viral thread of posts and photos in a similar article here before the tweets disappeared.]
But here’s the true and real…the trill if you will:
On November 16, 2016, beautiful young Zoe Prina tweeted, “So remember how that cute guy sold me the last iPhone in the store? Then came to my house? Then got tacos with me at 1 am? Update: we’ve been dating for two months.”
Okay, let’s go back in time just a little bit before that tweet.
In July of that same year, a young wife begged her husband to stay. He had been inventing nothings to fight about so that he could show her just how terrible they were as a couple. He wanted out, he had checked out long ago, he was ready to leave, and there was nothing she could do to convince him to try otherwise.
For the first week that this other adorable couple were dating, he brought her blueberries and a smoothie every single night. And when he became really sick around that same time, she dropped everything to take care of him. He cried, telling her that no one had ever done that for him. (Makes you wonder about his mother …or step-mother in this case, seeing as she was the one to fill that role for most of his life).
Around the time they got married, the young, dance-major, wife, began to gain weight at a worrisome rate. No matter what they did, she could not seem to make it stop. She was soon diagnosed with a tumor in her brain, causing a hormone surge that made her gain weight and feel extremely fatigued and sore. It was not cancerous, but it had hemorrhaged, bleeding around her brain, creating an intense pressure which not only presented a real risk to her life, but also caused a sudden surge in her other symptoms as well. She was placed on medications to try to shrink the tumor in the least invasive way possible, which gave her days-long migraines, and seemed to help little to none. He became angry at her during these migraines when she struggled to function. And, frustrated by the inconvenience of these migraines, he continuously discouraged her from taking her medication, the medication that she needed to get and feel better.
Nonetheless, the couple continued to work hard in their undergraduate studies. The wife even maintained her job, and sustained her own education with scholarships she earned for herself.
Life was still probably about as good as the next person’s, and they were financially secure, working hard towards their goals.
But emotionally, he was not happy, nor secure. Soon after the wedding, he tells friends that he never would have married her as she is now. He tells her that he doesn’t want to be married to her. And the fights begin. The fights are physical, and cruel. On multiple occasions, he holds her powerless on the floor, punching her in the gut, as she claws at him trying to break free. Another time, he breaks a shelf with her head.
One day, she has a severe allergic reaction, her joints swell stiff, her body is covered in hives, and breathing becomes difficult. In pain, she asks him to help her by handing her her prescription, but he yells at her, and abandons her alone in the apartment. Her reaction becomes too severe in spite of the prednisone, and a friend takes her to urgent care.
By spring of 2016, the relationship’s status looked terminal. To add to his depression, his biological mother had finally succumbed to her depression, leaving him an inheritance of at least $40,000, which he slips into a separate account and never mentions to his wife—he doesn’t want to mix his money with the funds that he shares with his eternal wife.
Then he has more and more “work meetings” late into the night, and they are fighting more and more. “Divorce,” is what he is fighting for now, not marriage.
In March, 2016, the time comes for her to sign up for a study abroad course in London as they have previously discussed. But by this time, she wants to stay with him, afraid to leave with their marriage struggling so terribly and hoping to save it. Maybe it is a magnanimous show of love, or maybe it isn’t, but after she tells him she is not going on the trip if she can stay and save their marriage, he signs her up and pays the non-refundable payment without her. Then he tells her that she will be leaving to London for two months. But they agree that he will meet her there to tour Europe.
They write heartfelt vows to each other to remember and remind each other of how much they love each other before she heads off to London. But when he arrives in Europe in June, he is emotionally, mentally, and physically checked out of the relationship in every way. And he makes it clear that he is nothing but unhappy to be there.
By the time they return to their apartment in July, they are worse than ever. He leaves to his parents’ their first night home. She goes there to try to work things out with him. But after he screams repeatedly in front of his family that he does “not care about her,” she buys a plane ticket to go be with her own family. And when he finally goes after her, acting as if he has come to fix things, he knows it’s just to end things.
So it goes for those few last days in July: fights in front of everyone–him fighting to leave, and her fighting to make things work. “Marriage isn’t supposed to be this hard,” he says. “You’re needy,” he tells her, and “you have physically and emotionally abused me,” he says. All while defending and excusing himself for hitting her during their past fights over the last couple years.
But ultimately, he explains over and over, “I am leaving you because I love you.”
Then, mid-July of 2016, he drives away to proceed with the divorce to which his abandoned, stunned wife has powerlessly agreed. But before he goes, he empties the bank account of all their joint earnings. He and his family begin pressuring his wife to sign the papers even before the papers are ready. And before the wife has even had a reasonable opportunity to contact or obtain an available lawyer, they’re putting short deadlines on her to do so–as well as to attend to every other “matter of business” they demand, or else receive no money to live on, or else have her car reported as stolen, or else, or else.
Meanwhile, by around early August, 2016, he is telling his buddies that the Mormon church is excommunicating him, and he is being expelled from BYU (where he has just been accepted into a competitive business school major with his wife’s support).
Why? “Because I slept with Zoe,” he tells them.
Away from his sick wife, and into the bed of the the girl who had taken no part in this vow of “in sickness and health,” a girl who knew nothing of the trauma these two might have worked to overcome, a girl who, nonetheless, took priority over everything and everyone in his life.
He was doing the right thing though. His wife was “toxic,” “depressed like his real mom,” “bipolar,” “crazy,” and “using all his money.” And he was sure that he was doing the right thing. But still, this “right thing” that he was doing, had to stay a secret–until November 16th, that is.
On November 3, 2016, the final draft of the divorce papers was filed, and the papers were finalized on November 15, 2016.
And at 8:34AM, on November 16, 2016, an adorable post that would go viral was created:
Two months. They were already dating for two months before his hasty divorce was finalized. (And do any of us really believe it was only “two months”? Right.)
And then there’s this post that might speak more to you now that you’ve heard this story:
I’m with you @LazUhhhBro.
Of course, this “adorable couple” (the second one, I mean) is crass enough to publicly share and profit from telling a half-truth about what they’ve been doing all along–but not lie enough to show some decency to the innocent human beings they trampled in their selfish paths. No problem lying a little to protect your own face, but no more lying left in you to fudge the story by a couple extra months? …But, I mean, I guess the really important thing is that a Utah judge didn’t hear the whole story before the divorce was over. Fiscal security is important yo–don’t want that Mormon judge siding with the humiliated sick wife you clearly cheated on, but no need to spare her feelings once that’s all over.
Adorable indeed, Deseret News. Way to show the world that Mormons are so cool and equally as worldly as the rest of the world by participating in the wonderful lifestyle porn epidemic. The porn epidemic that is apparently no exception to everything that porn implies: glorified dishonesty, selfish destruction, and is just, plain disgusting.
As the saying goes, all that glitters is not gold… In fact, most of the time, that which is true gold, just_does_not_glitter_on_social_media. Social media is just a filter that simply can_not_ capture that kind of glitter. Happy faces on a Christmas card, sure. But, do I have to explain the difference here? (I think we all know it when we see it ….if we’re being honest with ourselves that is.)
You know what kind of glitter social media does capture? Profit and fame.
And the peeps at Deseret News know this, and yet, they participate in the facade… to what? What, I ask, was the story here? Seriously! A girl tweets about her relationship and it was cute, and it went viral, and…. “See??? Mormons are COOL!”
But I mean, for reals, the story is like, sooo, adorable, right? And… like, “hope,” right? No, not hope. Fantasies are not where “hope” comes from. They’re created by harmful lies, and they beget more harmful lies. And when the reality hits, the disillusionment actually destroys hope.
Looking at this “adorable” twitter thread more realistically though, and judging by the background and precedent in this story, I think we can now all see that @ThatGuySky is probably the most on point here:
Update: a year ago, almost to the day, this young man was driving away from his wife for forever, and now he’s on his honeymoon with the girl he left her for.
I sure hope his visit to Europe is nicer this time around….since he doesn’t have to miss the girl he’s cheating with anymore.
….On the up side, at least the story about how beautiful it can look to destroy an “eternal” temple marriage, is making the church a little money!
Oh the inspiration and feelings.
(comments enabled July 28, 8:00pm)