The Taylor Swift Dilemma: Real Vs. Digital Honesty


The Taylor Swift dilemma is real. She’s been on the scene now for 8 years, and we’ve seen her through a myriad of high-profile relationships, each one more monitored and criticized than the last. I always feel a tinge of sympathy for her when I see articles bashing the release of her latest single through endless speculation concerning the male subject of the song and painting her as a needy, whiney man-eater.

Here’s the thing: I am her. She is me. She is all of my friends at one point or another in our dating lives. I frequently find myself tired of the boy I just met last week. Life takes me from one city to another and relationships come and go quickly. Some end in the nicest goodbyes, and others leave me crying and watching The Notebook alone in my room on repeat for months.

I wish I could write a song for millions of people to hear every time a boy lets me down or pisses me off. I can’t even imagine the satisfaction she feels knowing that boy heard that song, and he’s aware of the exact feelings she gleaned from their relationship, good or bad. She is coping with her relationship woes in a way I think everyone secretly wishes they could. So, why is there still such controversy surrounding Taylor?

I believe it has to do with her unforgiving and unapologetic honesty, something we’ve given up in a sense through the creation of social media, and now this honesty is something we fear. Yes, I’m blaming social media for our T-Swift backlash, but hear me out.

We live in the shadows of our Facebook profiles, tweets and Instagram feeds. We project who we would like to be and how we would like to be perceived through these tools. This in turn puts us, the 20-somethings of 2014, in a dating world limbo of sorts. Dating is not what it was when our parents went to the drive-in, and we haven’t fully gotten on board with online dating yet. It’s much too reminiscent of the lecherous chat rooms we were 100% not allowed to visit as kids. We’re stuck somewhere in the middle of our real and digital worlds, and social media has become the significant other in our lives with our significant others. Don’t lie and say you’ve never perused a new interest’s Facebook photos or Instagram feed, or that you haven’t noticed their latest tweet in hopes/fear that it might have something to do with you. We want to know what makes that person tick so we can decide quickly whether or not they’re worth our time.

This should all be making us much more honest, right? Wrong. We’re all so deeply socially integrated with each other now. How can we really be honest about how we’re feeling in the dopey first few weeks of a new love or post-break-up without the significant other (and 500+ others) seeing and judging instantly? We want to be perceived as strong and resilient in the wake of relationship devastation even though we’re all crumbling internally. Enter: Taylor Swift.

Instead of hiding the extreme feelings of a crush, real-deal love, and what ends it all, the break-up, the chick lays it out there for everyone to see. We view her honesty concerning each passing relationship as “crazy” since, by the unwritten rules of social media conduct, we would be given this label ourselves by posting thoughts like, “You’re a redneck heartbreak who’s really bad at lying,” as our Facebook status.

Are we jealous of Taylor Swift for being so honest because we’re not allowed to be? And even though social media is supposed to let our friends, family, and love interests into our lives more intimately than ever before, are we posting synthetic emotions instead of real ones in fear of being given the Taylor Swift label?

What if we were just truly honest about how we felt?