Soft launches the opposite of romantic

Graphic by Rachel Woon | Mercury Staff

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Posting a picture of your partner’s side profile on your Instagram isn’t a “soft launch,” you’re just media obsessed.  

Love is in the air! Valentine’s Day and its capitalistic hold on the American public has once again invaded aisles in the form of chocolate boxes and teddy bears at our local grocery stores. It has also revived the divisive social media discourse on one trend: the soft launch. 

For those unaware, a “soft launch” consists of posting cryptic, unidentifiable pictures of your romantic partner on social media. A soft launch is more casual, whereas a “hard launch” means posting a fully identifiable picture of your partner, somehow more committal. The purpose of a soft release is to share your relationship without explicitly identifying who you’re dating. 

A soft launch isn’t the end of the world, but the trend is a larger reflection of the impact of consumerism on dating. Debates on the effectiveness of dating apps and the changes in dating culture are both impacted by the reality that so much of the way we view ourselves is through the lens of our social media. Further, the way we view other people is intrinsically connected to their social media presence. Trends like the soft launch demand that we examine why we value relational ambiguity. If the aesthetic you’ve created for yourself online is impacting your relationships, that is a problem.

When it comes to social media during Valentine’s Day, I think we need to examine the trends we’ve allowed ourselves to get swept up in. If a soft launch is what you’re concerned about during this time of the year, you need to reconsider your definition of dating.

If you find yourself having to choose between a soft or hard launch of your romantic partner this season, consider putting down the phone and telling them you love them instead. Happy Valentine’s Day!


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