For many high school students, October no longer brings to mind pumpkins and vibrant fall foliage, but is instead typified by homecoming proposal posters and bouquets. The obsession with finding a date and asking him or her in an Instagram-worthy way has come to a head. A once heartfelt and creative tradition has become a stress-inducing expectation.
When and why did this transformation occur, and how can we change it back?
Guys asking girls to school dances is an age-old tradition that has devolved into a grandiose production. Perhaps the issue is that fear of rejection drives the belief that a clever proposal will increase one’s chance of having a date. There are two places this could be coming from: girls’ expectations or male one-up manship.
While these are both ancillary causes of this phenomenon, the primary one may be social media. Far too many students seem to live by the motto,
“if there’s not a picture, then it didn’t happen.” Homecoming proposals are preserved in a staggering number of of posts each year, and the most clever or outlandish ones go viral on social media. If there was no pressure to have a picture to post, then flowers and chocolate would be acceptable, and no one would expect a spectacle.
While the pre-dance pictures and dinner may be date-oriented in certain groups, the reality is that only six minutes of the three hour dance are spent slow dancing with your date; the rest are spent dancing and socializing with friends. Thus, there is hardly any reason to obsess over a date.
The issue is not in asking someone to Homecoming in a way that he or she will remember, but rather in the expectation that you ask in a way that everyone will remember.
The purpose of Homecoming is to welcome back former students for a time of reunion. The Homecoming dance is meant to be a celebration of friendship, not a gaudy matchmaking parade. Having a date and a rose bouquet is simply an endearing bonus, not the main attraction.
This article first appeared in our December issue of our news magazine.