October 12, 2010

Would you date your Google results?

Posted in Social Life, social media, Work-Life at 2:16 pm by Jennifer

Sitting in a slightly crowded and dimly lit lounge, you see an attractive stranger. They smile at you, you smile back at them and then a conversation kicks off. If it goes well at the end of the night you might have a name, a phone number, a business card or an email address. And then as is only fitting for modern courtship, we do the unthinkable – we Google.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to dating in the digital age.

As a single working professional living in Toronto social media has been an amazing way to meet new people, to get myself invited to events and to do research relevant to my career and interests. I’ve looked into things for clients (like trying to find a giant blue garbage bin), kept on top of industry news, I’ve found great recipes and I’ve been alerted to the grand opening of Snakes and Lattes. But when it comes to dating, has social media helped or harmed us?

When I Googled my name I learnt that there is a writer named Jennifer Ouellette who wrote “Physics of the Buffyverse” and yet another who designs hats and headbands, some of which were featured on the TV show Gossip Girl. Then there were results that actually traced back to me – my LinkedIn profile, Twitter and this blog you happen to be reading now. Not a terrible Google outcome, but is it all that descriptive of “who I am” or what I’m like in person?

Allow me to use a few examples from my personal life to illustrate the new face of dating. One date began talking about interests that I had but hadn’t told him about. When I was caught off guard by his pseudo-psychic tendencies he admitted “I Googled you”. I immediately felt like I had been cyber-stalked by the next coming of a tech savvy Patrick Bateman. I have been told that I look nothing like my pictures and that I photograph badly. (Is that supposed to be a compliment!?) Another date had been surprised how “laid back and creative” I was because (apparently) my online presence makes me look “very corporate”. (…. really?) Well there’s a simple reason for that ladies and gentlemen… I work in a professional field! My online presence is a part of my “digital resume”, and I’ve made the conscious decision to keep it that way. But I think that I still keep my own writing style and unique “voice” in everything that I do.

The truth is only certain aspects of my personality are online. Not everything is always relevant to what I’m writing about or the conversations I’m joining. I’m not really going to blog about the fencing class I’ll be joining in the new year, about my favorite arcade games, about which paintings at the AGO take my breath away, about my irrational fear of spiders/things with more than four legs or about which musical compositions are able to move me to the point of tears. Personal information is something I usually prefer to keep in me and share on a case-by-case basis.

But this all leads to interesting questions for social media users; is it better to break more boundaries and project all of yourself online or nothing at all? What weight should we give the Google results of someone we thought we were interested in moments before making that search? What impact does social media have on couples, on relationships, on first dates and on breakups?

Thoughts?

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8 Comments »

  1. Totally individualized. Like we tweeted, I’m into guys Googling me. My blog and tweets are personal. Sure, “professional” bits pop in there, but I don’t hide much online. I talk about my dating life and when things go bad. That’s part of who I am, though. I would also say these things on a first date or the first time I meet someone.

    Needless to say, I scare people easily. Haha. But those who are into it are REALLY into it and folks know upfront how open I am online. They know they’re signing up to be brought into that ; )

    • Oh, you’re not so scary! ; ) Thanks again for having this conversation with me (through social media I might add) and keeping the dialogue going. You’re take on digital dating is really refreshing, I think I might need to take a page or two out of your rule book.

  2. Sean Ward said,

    I get why you feel stalked when you got Googled, but that’s a remnant of a past age and the way things used to be. This ain’t the day of calling your house but not before 10:30 any more.

    • You’re absolutely right Sean. When things change we need to find ways to evolve and adapt. (But it’s still easy to feel a bit of nostalgia ever now and then.)

  3. John said,

    It’s my experience that digital information falls into a difficult category: everyone instantly assumes that Google=gospel, which is obviously not the case: the number of (and I use the technical term) “fruit loops” online is astonishing.

    For dating, would you leave Canada? I love Canada but have been away for years.

    • Thank you John, very interesting perspective. I think I’m going to keep my relationships on this side of the equator for the time being. 🙂

  4. It’s a small world

    • It’s a world of laughter
      A world of tears
      It’s a world of hopes
      And a world of fears
      There’s so much that we share
      That it’s time we’re aware
      It’s a small world after all

      fa la la la la, la la la la! 😉


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