The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have always tried to portray themselves as squeaky clean versions of the search for a soul mate, but longtime viewers know that behind the scenes, things are a little more complicated. In recent years, for example, some contestants' offensive interactions on social media haven't come to light until their seasons are already airing, raising some questions about the franchise's screening process. Now, Bachelorette contestant Garrett Yrigoyen has a new Instagram, and it’s another example of the franchise brushing off serious issues.
A few days before Becca’s season of The Bachelorette premiered, it was revealed that contestant (and frontrunner) Garrett had allegedly liked a series of homophobic, transphobic, and racist Instagram posts while using his now-deleted personal Instagram account, @garrett_yrigs12. (This was the Instagram account that blogger Reality Steve named as Garrett’s when he announced who the contestants on Becca’s seasons were.) These posts were, frankly, gross, and though Garrett didn’t post them himself, his apparent double-taps seem like an endorsement of the content produced on the accounts. Former Bachelor contestant Ashley Spivey was the one who brought these likes to light, and she called out the Bachelor producers on Twitter by suggesting they should do a little more than cast a furtive glance at social media when checking the backgrounds of the contestants they’re putting on the show.
In light of all of the fire around Garrett’s old Instagram account, he deleted it, and Reality Steve debunked most of the accounts created in Garrett’s name shortly after as trolls or people trying to have a good time with his name. What is real, though, is the new Instagram account @gy_yrigoyen. On May 31, from that account, Garrett issued a statement in which he apologized for his social media activity. He said that he takes “full responsibility for my ‘likes’ on Instagram that were hurtful and offensive.” He also said that “garrett_yrigs12 was my former Instagram handle and I decided to take it down and start fresh because I have learned an extremely valuable lesson and am taking steps to grow, become more educated, and be a better version of myself.” He wrapped up the statement by claiming that he didn’t want his social media to “define who [he is]” and that he, once again, apologizes for “hurt, damage, or offense I may have caused.”
As for what Becca thinks of all of this, she told E!:
"I've heard a little bit about it these past couple days. I've just been so busy traveling around the country with press that I haven't really been able to read too much up on it, but everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and at the end of the day I wanted to go on this journey to open up myself and have people see my love story unfold and I would hope that they would stay open and respect me but also stay open and respect these 28 guys that went along on the journey with me."
That’s a big nothing, huh? It seems like Becca wants to stay neutral on the guy who emerged as the early frontrunner of her season. (He got the first impression rose.) Garrett is entitled to open as many social media accounts as he wants, but should he have opened another Instagram account given all the attention and controversy surrounding his old one? Garrett’s stated desire to create a clean slate for himself online doesn’t negate the fact that it was his original account that allegedly liked all of those offensive posts. Bekah, a contestant on Arie’s season of The Bachelor, put it best when she said that everything a person does on social media is indicative of their true selves.
Social media is now part of the fabric of our culture. A person can say or like anything they want on their accounts, but that person has to be ready to take responsibility for their words and endorsements, especially those made on public accounts. Garrett could be ignorant of how social media works, but he still showed his support for posts that advocated offensive ideas when he double-tapped them. Then he presumed making another account would make it all better. Starting over — nothing to see here, guys — doesn't erase what already happened, and posting an apology before filling an account with sporty pictures doesn't do much to prove he's making a real effort at change.
The truth of the matter is that Garrett shouldn’t have created another Instagram account until learning how to wield one responsibly — until he realizes how messed up the posts that he endorsed really are and does something to counteract the hurt he caused. These days, a Bachelor/Bachelorette contestant can’t exist without an Instagram because of the need for sponsored posts, but if I may, Garrett should have sat this one out and read a book (without posting a picture of it). A little bit of history may do Garrett good.