Why that couple who Insta-storied two strangers in front of them for an entire flight is actually really weird

Jo Harris-Cooksley
4 min readJul 5, 2018


As a single person, it’s not uncommon to experience other people projecting their own hopes and dreams onto your romantic future. There are various ways this interest manifests itself: tilted heads, leading questions, looks of concern, squeals of excitement, and, of course, prying questions about your love life that social etiquette doesn’t quite permit you to reciprocate (‘so, how’s the sex going after 5 years and two kids, guys?’). But happily, if you persist in your single status for a number of years, your threats to release the hounds upon anyone who continues to interrupt stories about arguably more interesting parts of your life (“oh, you travelled to Asia? Amazing! Did you meet any nice men?”) begin to sink in.

Friendships deepen, conversations move beyond surface questions that only serve to highlight your lack of dates, and your confidence in yourself as a single person in the world grows. Your life takes on a truly multi-faceted existence of quiet baths, good books, gigs, nights out, a varied London-based social life, not to mention the frequent impromptu holidays to distant edges of the globe and, well, tennis on Saturdays. And when that happens, the once much-heralded alternative — tying yourself to another person forever more and spending your weekends visiting their family— becomes a club even your friends can no longer muster enough enthusiasm for you to join.

Alas, the same can’t be said for a couple on board a flight to Texas the other day. After swapping seats with a woman so they could sit together, the couple quipped that she might ‘end up sitting next to the love of her life’ as a result. Well, internet, you’ll never guess what happened next. A hot man did indeed sit down next to the woman and the two started talking, which set the couple on an excitable mission to document the love story as it unfolded through the gap of the seats in front (600,000+ likes and counting).

And honestly, I can understand their excitement. Because as anyone who’s ever watched When Harry Met Sally knows, when a man and a women talk for an entire journey, they eventually end up head over heels in love, right after they’ve married other people and divorced them 20 years later.

Anyway, the couple paid for plane WiFi to upload Insta-stories throughout the flight, zooming in on the stranger’s arms if they touched, and posting a commentary to an eagerly assembled audience of Instagram followers. It was pure poetry. Think M Night Shyamalan by way of Hugh Grant

“OMG, you guys, they’ve got up to use the toilet at the same time!”

“Guys! They’ve added each other on Instagram! I think it’s love!”

Putting aside for one second the fact that

  1. the human race’s new auto-response to broadcast the movements of complete strangers onto the internet without their permission is extremely weird


2. adding someone on Instagram after 3 hours of conversation is basically the straight to DVD of love stories,

I’d like to instead turn our gaze to our inflight directors. The fawning, gleeful couple who saw two good looking people without wedding rings, travelling alone, and talking, and immediately did that Classic Couple Thing of assuming that what these two solo travellers needed from their flight home — nay, their lives — was to fall in love with the stranger in the seat next to them.

Look, I get it, I get how Hollywood and years of human existence has made this a thing. I get this rom-com vibe is a story everyone likes. I get that it’s exciting to watch something unfold. And I get that most couples want other couples to join them at their dinner parties in the same way I, a single person, want everyone to come on holiday to Australia with me and spend 3 weeks getting pissed on the beach— but let me introduce another concept: which is please, world: get a grip.

This isn’t cute, it’s creepy as fuck.

It’s weird to video people and put them on the internet, and it’s weird to want complete strangers to fall in love when your own beautiful love story has led to you being on a plane with so little to say to your boyfriend that you’re paying $20 for WiFi so you can update the internet about two humans who may or may not be touching arms in front of you.

This story is the online equivalent of that person who sees you, a single person, talking to a man, any man, at a party and immediately rushes over to say ‘OOOH! So WHO was THAT?’, to which your response is generally: well, that’s my friend, he’s gay. Or I don’t know, but he’s hot. Or, god knows, he was just holding the wine. Or actually, he’s married to that woman over there. Either way, why do you care so much?

The point is, strangers aren’t fodder for your Instagram feed in the same way that single people aren’t just here for your entertainment. We’re alright, we’re doing our thing, and we don’t need you projecting your hopes and dreams onto us, and broadcasting our progress onto the internet.



Jo Harris-Cooksley

Tweets @joannahc, writes about life and London. Newsletter exists here: http://bitly.com/sheloveslondonletters). Will ask before I pat your dog.