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Promposals...Sweet or Sour?

I generally consider myself a pretty sentimental gal - I like traditions, I like hold onto memorabilia - both intentional (think a glossy concert program that you purchase) and incidental (that wrist band from that music festival back in 1996). And I typically embrace new traditions that each generation or region I've lived in develops.

But this promposal thing...I just can't get my head around it.

It's just so unnecessary. It's so...extra. Isn't prom special enough that these young men - and it seems to be - based on what I have witnessed - that's its the boys that have to figure it out - are jumping through hoops to make Insta-worthy moments of often an already given notion that seem to be more often than not, met with a great sense of underwhelm because it wasn't done JUST THAT WAY. So if they do take on the endeavor - it better be right.

Girls are insisting on this. Girls are directing this. Even when girls are the ones asking their dates to the prom - somehow...the boys are still having to go through this process.

I just don't get it.

It's one thing if it's spontaneous. Or truly a surprise. But so often it's not. Talk about the whole "keeping up with the..." thing - that seems to be literally what it's all about. It's the new status symbol of the high school senior set. Whose promposal is best?

It's not a lifetime commitment, people - for Kevin Bacon's sake - it's a high school dance.

And yes...I remember the anticipation from back then - I'm not a monster. But in the year when it was my own prom - I had a boyfriend. Who I knew was going to be my date. I didn't make him jump through any hoops to do what we both knew was already going to happen. And I didn't love him any less for it. I don't even recall the conversation - I suppose I would have formally asked him - since it was my prom, not his. And my prom experience was extraordinarily memorable. Maybe even more so because of where the emphasis lay.

Yes...some of them are awfully cute - I'll admit. The catchy puns, the sweet gestures - but so many of them are just sooooo contrived, it's almost painful.

I don't want to be the kvetch who steals the thunder of any young person who wants to make a lasting memory for another person. That's not what I'm getting at. And I am typically all about bringing more fun, more joy, more meaningful experiences into the world. But therein lies the kicker - I just want it to be real. I want it to be because someone wants to do it and isn't expected to do it. I want to be from the heart, and not with an expectation of reward. If it's any or all of those things - THAT'S what makes a memory indelible.

I think it may have started that way. A few industrious and creative young people trying to make a splash - either to ensure that their intendeds felt special - or because they just decided to "go big or go home" and figured that the giant gestures would elicit the desired outcomes - and then those moments went viral. And the copy cat syndrome began. Break for research...

If you ask the internet when this whole thing started, the consensus seems to be 2001, when a newspaper in Dallas covered a story about a couple of kids broadcasting their invitations over the school loudspeaker. By 2011, 20,000 promposal videos were uploaded. This was also the year the portmanteau was coined - by a young Canadian teen. By 2014, there were 40,000. As of this writing, Instagram has 162,000 posts identified with the hashtag #promposal. That doesn't include all of the different variations of the word.

As I think about it - I think what bothers me most is my fear that this is what this generation is chalking up to sincere sentimentality. That this contrived action is transmuted and considered the real deal. THIS is what makes for the depth of their emotional experience? It's not even kiddie pool deep.

Who or what do I point a finger at for the phenomenon? Maybe I can't. Social media? Sure. Helicopter parenting? Maybe. Can I blame Disney somehow (just please don't blacklist me - Tower of Terror and Avatar Flight of Passage are among my top five favorite rides ever)? Or just Hollywood in general? Kardashians - I can always point some finger at them - they're kind of my default - especially in the realm of anything artificial.

Here's to many more years of corsages and boutonnières, floor length dresses and tuxes, tiaras and sashes and crowns and scepters. And here's to no one feeling like they shouldn't go - prom IS for everyone - and everyone should feel welcome at a capstone event like this. Just keep it real, people. There's enough magic there if you're just willing to look.

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