The romper, the soldiers & the cheating conspiracy

Every picture tells a story — including stories you didn't mean to tell

The other day, I asked my Twitter followers to geolocate the following picture:

As is tradition, I was geolocated very quickly. As always, the methodologies were very good. For example:

And let’s not forget the method employed by Credible Intel, otherwise known as Miss C:

Of course, as Vicky pointed out, one could skip a bunch of steps and use Google Lens:

In fact, it can, and has, been argued that Google Lens has really taken the fun out of challenges like this.

Of course, for me, it’s more than just the fun. This is another way of showing people how a picture in a faraway land can easily have people on a different continent, who have never been to Ukraine, geolocate them in a short period of time. Google Lens is useful for that, as are other methods.

More importantly, I post pictures in order to get people acquainted with the geolocation process — for those moments when Google Lens won’t be of much help. Whether it’s an old picture from a family archive you’re trying to place in context or another mystery you’re trying to solve, paying attention to details is crucial, and this picture has many of them — from the facade, to the statue, to the markings on the ground, and so on.

A picture can tell many stories, though, which is something you must keep in mind when you post one! And here’s a great example of just that: This picture tells a particular story if you zoom in on the soldiers, as other people have in the past. Jay zoomed in this time around:

And of course, I had a laugh:

Soldiers are soldiers everywhere, and it’s never going to stop being funny.

At the same time, if you had followed my digital footprint closely, you’d know that there was more going on here than a soldier staring as I showed off a new romper.

When this picture was taken, my marriage, already marred by years of violence and conflict, was rapidly deteriorating. My then husband later used this picture to spin a grand conspiracy theory about how that soldier and I actually knew each other, and how I had posted the picture to my Instagram to mock my vows. At the time, we were staying at my father’s place, so the husband didn’t have the freedom to go ballistic — by the time we returned to Moscow, however, all bets were off.

A lot of friends in Moscow had witnesses my husband’s violent and threatening behavior. Many knew that I was quietly trying to leave. But for those who hadn’t seen the things he did, or those who did see them and wrote them off on me “provoking” him, my Instagram became “evidence” that I was “lying” about and “fabricating” claims of spousal abuse.

The above picture was among those trotted in order to slander me. After all, if I had been a good wife, why had I posted it? It’s clear that a soldier is checking me out — why did I have to do something like that? Wasn’t this a “sign” that I “deserved” my husband’s ire? Those were all serious arguments deployed against me, and even deployed against people seeking to help me leave.

To be perfectly honest, my opsec was terrible in those days. And I hadn’t even considered how the shot could be used against me when I posted the pic, eager to share my latest buy from the Kyiv dressmaking shop Sisters, a place I absolutely adored + eager to share the humor of the situation,

Do I blame myself for the way in which my picture was used? Absolutely not. I blame my then husband for being a paranoid, controlling, rage-driven jerk, and I blame people who continued to enable him even after he openly spoke about wanting to “bash [my] head in” and “choke me to death.”

At the same time, it is my duty to point out that the meaning of a particular shot can absolutely be twisted. Being aware of that doesn’t mean being paranoid, it means being aware of potential scenarios, and planning accordingly. Being aware is especially helpful if you’re going through a contentious divorce/split from an ex.

As for me, my life is much better now! I am happy to be out of my marriage, I enjoy life, and I still have that romper. It reminds me that things can and do change for the better, which is an encouraging thought.

Need help managing your digital footprint while going through a divorce? Hit me up at nvantonova {at} gmail [dot] com. And if you learned something new today, please consider a paid subscription! $5 a month is not much — and it keeps the wheels turning.