GIFs, Now? The Evolution of the Internet Proposal

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This article originally appeared on Yahoo! Shine

If you haven’t yet tired of viral marriage proposals, that’s good, because here’s a new one, and it's a GIF. On Wednesday, Redditor user DizzleStu proposed to his girlfriend by asking her to pose for a photo (he was secretly videotaping her), then captured her excited reaction when he handed her a ring. He then created an adorable GIF of the moment. By Friday, his post had racked up more than 1,000 comments and solidified its status as the next frontier of Internet proposals.

gif marriage proposal

Over the past several years, as social media progresses and oversaturates mass culture, love and how we express it, has changed right along with it. What started as endearing gestures caught on film has morphed into high-tech motion movies and animated graphics. Here’s how marriage proposals have evolved, for better or worse. Spoiler alert: All these women said yes.

October, 2005: We start by asking "Jeeves"
Our Internet archeologists have dug up what may be the first "search engine" proposal back when Jeeves was still on top of his game. According to this link, man named Barry proposed to his girlfriend Yisha via the Ask Jeeves search engine, with the help of its search team. Schwartz pulled it off by bringing her to his office and asking her to do a search on her name. Confused as she must have been, she typed her name into Ask Jeeves, while her boyfriend kneeled behind her, holding a ring and a bouquet of flowers. Her name suddenly appeared hyperlinked to the couple's wedding website, which she didn't know existed. When she clicked on the link, she read, "Will you marry me?" Genius!

May, 2010: We co-opt the flashmob
The first flashmob was in 2003, but the Youtube "marry me" flashmob came a few years later, and really started to take off after 2010. In the early days of the dance-themed surprise proposal — before mob-planning companies and Ikea entered into the equation — the scenes were scrappy, in a good way. The filming was imperfect, the participants were first-timers, the location was (ideally) legal and the element of surprise was really, really big. Remember those days?

December, 2010: We enlist Facebook
Whether it's lazy or revolutionary, no one can argue it's not efficient. A man named "D" proposed to his girlfriend Breeze in his Facebook status update. "Breeze, will you be my wife?" She accepted in a comment. "Facebook? Really! If this means you will love me for all the time I would spend on the internet, then yes."

May, 2011: Then one guy really raises the bar
An Atlanta man upped the ante on the viral proposal, when he created a movie trailer of romantic proportions. First he told his girlfriend he was at work, so she went to the movies with her brother. She sat through an opening preview, without realizing that the trailer she was watching was one of her boyfriend asking her father for her hand in marriage. The film was entitled, "Making the Movies Jealous," and ended with the soon-to-be groom running into the movie theater and dropping to one knee. Actually, it really ended when the couple posted the video to Youtube, along with the headline "Greatest Marriage Proposal Ever!!!" and ended up with 29 million views. Hello.

December, 2011: We get meme happy
It takes a brave man to interrupt girls' night out. But that’s exactly what a guy named Timothy did when he busted up his girlfriend Audrey’s group dinner at a restaurant. Standing in the window, he showed her poster-size printed memes such as, “Victory Baby” and “Socially Awkward Penguin.” After getting down on one knee, he said, "I'm very nervous and terrified about this, but I love you and I think you're my soul mate. And I can't see myself living without you in my life. ... Will you marry me?" Note: This would not be the last meme proposal. There was this one, a few years later, created with the help of several web-based artists, and egged on by Redditors. And don't think Ryan Gosling got away without meme-proposing. Hey, girl, it happened.

April, 2012: We live-tweet everything
Remember the guy
 who spent 12 hours on Twitter publicly prepping the world for his big proposal? That's one way to get followers.

May, 2012: We Bruno Mars-ify the flashmob 
Whether it was the song itself or the appeal of spontaneously breaking out into synchronized dance in public places, the Bruno Mars Flashmob became its own proposal brand (and put Mars on the pop culture map). Surprising loved ones by breaking into lip-dubbed dance routines at malls was revolutionary at the time, but the opening beats of the song are, by now, a dead giveaway that your life will be forever changed.

September, 2012: We do anything to go viral
With Internet proposals on overdrive, you needed more than just a bunch of dancers, or a cutesy idea to guarantee a viral proposal by 2012. That may be why saying yes to death-defying proposals became the rage. There was the commercial pilot who took his girlfriend on a helicopter ride and pretended the plane was malfunctioning, only to have her open the emergency manual to read the words, “Will you marry me?” And the super romantic Russian guy who faked his own death in a car crash with the help of a hired director, stuntmen, makeup artists, and a scriptwriter. When the women arrived at the crime scene, she was told her boyfriend was dead and burst into tears, only to watch him pop out of the ambulance holding balloons. "I wanted her to realize how empty her life would be without me and how life would have no meaning without me," he said.

May, 2013: We find a good use for Vine
One Los Angles man made social media history when he became the first person to use the mobile video service Vine to propose to his girlfriend with the hashtag #WillYouMarryMe.” He popped the question over Twitter with a Vine video of him holding a ring box. A happy ending for a couple who initially met on Twitter.

December, 2013: We rope in celebrities
Those worried that their big moment won’t be special without some Hollywood glamour enlist the help of celebrities. In December, a Kentucky couple got engaged at a Justin Timberlake concert after the groom made arrangements with the pop star’s managers to pop the question mid-show. After Timberlake performed the song “That Girl,” he relinquished the spotlight to the happy couple. That same month, a Chicago man asked “Breaking Bad” star Aaron Paul to help him propose to his girlfriend of three years, by filming a video of the actor saying, “I just wanted to send you a message on behalf of my good friend Jason. I think you know him, who I understand has a very important question to ask.”

February, 2014: We enter the age of the GIF proposal
It's about time we boiled all the romance, surprise and heartfelt joy of a proposal into one super-quick animated photo. Now that's progress.

—Elise Solé, Shine Staff

More on Yahoo! Shine:
Aaron Paul: Marriage Proposal Helper
The Best Proposals in Recent History


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