Public wedding proposals are not romantic.

What do public wedding proposals and social media have in common?

They go together like Love and Marriage. Only they don’t seem so lovey to me.

At the Rio Olympics medal ceremony made Qin Xai look like the most romantic guy in the world when he proposed to his girlfriend of six years, He Zi.

She had just won silver for the women’s three-metre springboard. She was emotional. Happy. Accomplished. And had the eyes of the world watching her.

In this moment, as she stepped off of the podium, Qin dropped to one knee and presented her a diamond ring.

Hearts melted. Social media melted.

I'm sure the story of He Zi and her now-fiance wouldn't have spread so fast if it weren't for social media and the thousands of phones and cameras flashing away in that stadium.

I'm almost just as sure Qin thought about those snaps before he decided to get down on one knee.

Social media is steadily fuelling our love for an audience - no matter what we do. If there are no photos, it didn't happen, right?

This constant search for approval in the form of Facebook likes has crept into even the most important, intimate parts of our lives. We seek it, almost without realising.

This Olympics, we also saw Brazilian rugby player Isadora Cerullo proposed to by her girlfriend, Marjorie Enya, after the women's rugby sevens final. In the 2012 London Olympics, we saw charity mascot Wendell Raphael propose to his girlfriend in a stadium of 20,000 people.

The same way we are cropping and filtering and sharing our beauty regimes and breakfast habits, we are "performing" marriage proposals and other significant life events.

Engagement announcement posts are a performance. Revealing the gender of your baby is a performance. Proposing to your girlfriend on the world stage in front of thousands of eyeballs (and camera lenses) is a performance.


You might say it is romantic that, in one of the most important moments in their lives, in front of the world he claimed to love her. To want to love her till "the day she dies".

These are powerful statements, deep promises to make. And when done in front of so many people, surely they are done in a manner that is devoid of authenticity.

I mean, what was she meant to say to him in that moment with so many eyes on her?

"No, Actually, I was going to tell you something when the Olympics was over."

If she had said "no", not only would she be disappointing her boyfriend of six years, but the whole world would have something to say.

If she had said "no", she would have been dampening what was surely one of the most important moments of her life anyway - winning a silver medal in the event she'd spent years of physical and mental dedication preparing for.

Who knows what He Zi was really feeling at the moment Qin proposed?

Not us. Not Qin.

Because she was caught on a stage. She was called upon to perform, without signing up for it.

Being proposed to in such a public place, on such a grand scale doesn't make things more romantic, it removes the romance.

He Zi had nowhere to go in that "romantic" moment because she knew how the script goes. Qin knew it too.

It kind of takes the love out of it, doesn't it?