"I need to stop Facebook stalking people," I text my best friend late this past Sunday night.
For the record, I do not have a Facebook stalking problem. In fact, I don't spend much time on social media at all. However, after an evening of casually perusing the Internet and discovering some surprising (and negative) things about a guy I had thought was really cool, I decided I now have a pretty firm stance on something: the Internet has ruined old-fashioned attraction.
In general, social media has streamlined the process of dating. It has allowed us to see someone, hear their name, and after a few quick key strokes, know who their friends are and what they like to do. Then, theoretically, we can make the decision of whether or not we might be compatible without ever having to attend a date. Gone are the days when you try to articulate an accurate description of someone you met and are into to your friends. Now, you can just look the person up and everyone can judge for themselves.
But what have we lost in this new-found convenience?
Well, as the saying goes, too much knowledge is a dangerous thing. Feeling as if you have the answers to the basic questions you would ask a person on a first date just moments after meeting them takes some of the charm and emotional buildup out of things. Knowing so much also kind of feels like an invasion of privacy, doesn't it, even if someone has posted it online? Admit it: it's weird to know something about a person before they actually tell you.
And how truthful are people on social media? It looks like them, it sounds like it could be them, but their Facebook page isn't their actual face relaying information to you. Both of you liking the pages for "Friends" and "Cuddling Puppies" is no more a sign you're compatible than one of you obsessively posting sports updates and the other not even being sure of the difference between football and rugby acting as a sign that you aren't.
Maybe it comes down to our generation having trust issues. We want to know everything as soon as possible and as easily as we can. But in terms of relationships, I think surprises can still be a good thing. It's not healthy to know too much about a person too soon.
So next time someone strikes your fancy, don't utilize your ability to research them. Just talk to them. Try and go with your gut. It's worked for generations of people before. After all, it is much more interesting to have a bad date story than to simply have the search history from a lackluster online investigation, isn't it?