You've Probably Been Gatsbying For Years And Didn't Know It — Until Now

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

Once upon a time, a man named F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a character that would be regarded, by many, as one of the greatest literary characters of all time. The character Jay Gatsby of the novel "The Great Gatsby" was the true embodiment of the American dream, as well as what can go wrong when you have it all. Although Gatsby wasn't based on any one particular person, the character embodied much of Fitzgerald himself and his fantastical quest to win over his eventual wife, Zelda Sayre, who was very much the inspiration for the heroine — and ultimate downfall of Jay Gatsby — Daisy Buchanan.

Gatsby was flamboyant in his attire, over-the-top in the cars he drove, and swimming in near-obnoxious opulence in the way he lived his life — he was a man driven to excess and money by any means possible to win the love of a rich girl. Everything Jay Gatsby did was for Daisy's affection, and had he been a real-life person living in this era of social media; he'd be that person you'd hate-follow on Instagram just to see what his next photo or story would contain. Another photo of him in a pink suit on a new yacht? Maybe him drinking Dom Perignon from the bottle in the Hamptons? Perhaps him taking a bath in beluga caviar aboard his private jet? And every photo wouldn't be for you or anyone else; every photo would be perfectly curated for Daisy.

If you've ever posted anything on social media that you had specifically handpicked for only one person to see, then you're no different from Jay Gatsby — and we've all done it. We're all guilty of Gatsbying from time to time or, in some cases, all the time.

What's Gatsbying?

Coined by Matilda Dods in Tomboy Beauty, Gatsbying is to post a video or photo on social media that, while visible to all your followers, is there for one person and one person only: a love interest. In some cases, it could be an ex you're hoping to win back or prove you're over. In other cases, it could be someone you've been crushing on at work, and you want to show them how fun and hot you are. 

"Posting that photo of you looking your best, a picture of a place you know your crush likes, or their favorite dish provides a passive way of getting their attention and gauging their interest without the fear of instant rejection," dating expert and digital matchmaker Julie Spira tells Elite Daily. "People who break up use this method of staying connected by posting photos looking fabulous on vacation, or at a place they used to go to with their ex, to see if they still care — or to keep the door open in case they might get back together in the future."

Naturally, very few of us have the millions upon millions that Jay Gatsby was able to show off in the hopes of wooing Daisy back into his life, but it doesn't mean we still can't try, in a small way, to appeal to someone whose interest we're trying to spark. Anyone can pose next to a yacht, after all.

Is Gatsbying effective?

Well, it depends on what you want. Just because someone hits the heart icon and "likes" your photo or video, it doesn't mean they're into you in the same way you're into them. Strangers roll onto people's social media and like random things all the time; it doesn't mean there's some sort of love connection there.

"The problem is, back in the day eventually something would happen — you would either finally talk to each other, and go on a date or you'd find out they weren't interested and you'd lick your wounds and move on," dating and life coach Francesca Hogi tells Bustle. "Today, the problem is that Gatsbying can go on indefinitely. A lot of the time it just goes nowhere. There is no substitute for real life, face-to-face communication. That's where the magic happens!"

Gatsbying can also lead to confusion. For example, if you're posting certain things for one specific person, you may read too much into their posts. Just because you, Gatsby, and we're all guilty of Gatsbying, doesn't mean someone else Gatsbying is directed toward you. (Now say that five times fast.)

For the most part, Gatsbying is harmless. There's nothing wrong with showing off your goods in the hope of impressing someone or catching their eye. But, as anyone who's read "The Great Gatsby" or seen the movie knows, even if your Gatsbying ways do lure your love interest into your clutches, it doesn't mean it will work out. It could actually just lead to your crush accidentally killing Myrtle Wilson, Tom Buchanan lying about what really happened, and you getting shot by Myrtle's husband while you're trying to enjoy an afternoon in your pool. In other words, things may not go as planned.