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We need to talk. 

 
There are a number of controversial issues over which the American public remains deeply divided–same-sex marriage, abortion, the death penalty. But on college campuses, there is one topic that consistently generates more feuding and strife than you’ll find on an episode of The View
 
Public Displays of Affection. 
 
Yes, for as many young lovers there are who revel in the opportunity to grope each other in a public setting, there are an equal amount of their scandalized peers who watch on in horror and desperately pray that nothing goes below the belt. PDA has ignited arguments. PDA has tested friendships. PDA has resulted in several indecent exposure charges. Truly some hot-button stuff. 
 

In all honesty, I’m a fervent PDA supporter. I find handholding adorable. I think kissing is perfectly natural. I feel dry humping is somewhat questionable, but I would never ask a couple to do these things in private–I’m a strong civil rights advocate, and censorship is a clear violation of the first amendment.
 
However, while I support PDA in its many forms, with its varying degrees of bumping, grinding, and emotional scarring of nearby children, there is one form that I firmly oppose. 
 
Online PDA. 
 
You know you’ve seen it. You might even do it. Facebook status updates about how much “Jen loves her honeybear <3<3<3.” Photo albums dedicated to “Christina + Ben 4 EVAAAA.” With the painful ubiquity of the Internet, it seems that PDA has jumped to the next logical medium. And never have displays of affection seemed so public. 
 
Sure you can let the world know that you have a man, and you should let your man know that he has your heart, but there are certain ways of expressing it that are just–to put it mildly–gross. 
 
Display your affection the right way, and make sure that you aren’t guilty of the following online offenses. 
 
Gooey Wall Posts 
 
When you write on a friend’s Facebook wall, you say all the things you can’t say in person. You give a shout-out to a high school buddy because he’s halfway across the country. You post a link to a friend’s wall because it’s awkward to whip out a pen in lecture and write a URL on her hand. And, while you can wish a friend “happy birthday” in person, you post it online because you know she measures her popularity by how many Facebook notifications she gets on her special day. 
 
So when you fill up your boyfriend’s Facebook wall with those tiny hearts (that I still have no clue how to type) and declarations of love so sickeningly sweet they’d give Baby Bop violent diarrhea, everyone can’t help but ask the obvious question: 
 
“What the hell do you two say when you’re together?” 
 
Don’t you tell him you love him when you kiss him goodnight? Don’t you call him “darlingface” and “lovemonkey” when you’re cuddling in bed? So why is it that you feel the need to clog up your friends’ Facebook feeds with sentiments that are far more meaningful when expressed in person? 
 
If the powerful feelings of love overtake you when he’s not around and you can’t fight the urge to tell him how you feel at this very moment, just remember: you have his phone number. 
 
And sexts are always very much appreciated. 
 
Kissing Profile Pictures 
 

If you’re vain like me, you’ve occasionally gone through the pictures of you tagged on Facebook and deleted the ones where you look a little, shall we say, unbecoming. 
 
Party shots where your Asian glow makes your face match very nicely with the fruit punch, photos where your body is in just the right position to make it look like you have a beergut–none of them make the cut. Yet for some reason, you can choose possibly one of the least attractive pictures of yourself to represent your Facebook profile: a picture of you kissing your boyfriend. 
 
Yes, it’s difficult to look your best when there’s a person planted on the front of your face, lips like a fish, cheeks smooshed together. Is that really the image you want people to remember you by? 
 
But even if you are one of those rare women who doesn’t care at all how she looks to other people, a profile picture of you two kissing just demeans your relationship. 
 
When you kiss for real, passionately embracing up against the wall of the library, it says to all those who see it, “We’re kissing because we just can’t help ourselves–we like each other so much!” 
 
When you post a picture of you two kissing, it just says, “We’re kissing because we want to show off our relationship to all of you. Actually, this was the third attempt–the first two came out blurry.” 
 
Doesn’t that sound romantic? 
 
About Him 
 

When members of previous generations heard the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover” they took it to heart. 
 
But we’re the SparkNotes generation–we don’t have the patience to read a book before judging it. So if someone wants to get to know you, often times they won’t put in the effort of, you know, talking to you. Often, they’ll just rely on what they find on Facebook. Your profile picture, your favorite books/movies/music. And, of course, your “About Me” section. 
 
So when your About Me section says more about your man and your relationship than it does yourself, it leaves people with the unfortunate–and possibly accurate–impression that there’s really not that much to you. And truthfully, if the most you have to say about yourself is that you’re in a happy, loving relationship, then you’re really just setting yourself up for a future as some businessman’s arm-candy. 
 
And too many of your foremothers burned their bras and boycotted depilatory products so that you wouldn’t have to settle for that future. 
 
That is why online PDA is such an abomination. It cheapens your image as well as your relationship. It robs your love of its integrity and makes others doubt how true your feelings are. 
 
So please, keep your PDA off the web and out in the real world. Because there’s nothing more pure and genuine than some over-the-clothes action in the middle of the quad. 
 

Scott Rosenfeld is a junior at Carnegie Mellon University pursuing a double major in Professional Writing and Psychology. Originally from the D.C metropolitan area, Scott grew up with a great passion for the written word. From the time he first read Dr. Seuss, he realized the overwhelming power of human language, as well as the limitless joy of making up words for the sake of rhyme. On campus, Scott keeps busy working as the prose editor for the Oakland Review Literary Journal and an editor for the Thought: Undergraduate Research Journal. He was also recently elected to the position of editor-in-chief for The Cut, Carnegie Mellon’s music magazine, for which he has worked as the copy manager for the past year. As editor-in-chief, he hopes to buy all of his staff a thneed. Because a thneed, he feels, is something that everyone needs.
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