Top 3 Reasons NOT to Stalk Them Online
by Thao Nguyen
We’ve all been there. You’ve just met somebody, and you HAVE to find out more about them. So you start a harmless investigation into their social media. Two hours later, you’re on their ex’s brother’s girlfriend’s profile and your fingers have gotten tired. Best case scenario: You drop your phone on your face, chip a tooth, and momentarily lose consciousness. Worst case scenario: You like a picture from 3 years ago and you have to move to Switzerland before the ex’s brother’s girlfriend tells your person what you’ve done.
Sure, it seems like it’s all fun and games, but there are a couple of reasons NOT to do an extensive exploration into somebody’s social media before that first date.
1. Accidentally liking a picture from a really long time ago.
As I mentioned earlier, it is way too easy to slip up and set off notifications that would let your person know you’ve been looking into them. I don’t know about you, but if someone I had just started talking to liked a really old picture of mine (before I added them on social media), I’d be creeped out. Don’t let them know you could work for the CIA until you’ve had a chance to show off your other talents!
2. Premature Judging
Have you ever met someone who you immediately clicked with in person, but after seeing their public profile, they turned out to be the kind of person to leave “first” comments on YouTube? Or maybe you met someone, looked them up, saw that you had everything in common, and decided that they were the one before even having a second conversation? Our public profiles are snapshots of ourselves, carefully curated and edited, they’re not the real us. For example, people who see my Instagram would think that I regularly go on hikes, bake cookies, and like to explore the city. The truth is I spend 90% of my time in bed looking at pictures of food while having Netflix on in the background. Using social media to form our opinions of someone means we’re leaving out large chunks of that person. Don’t let their profiles color your opinion of them before getting to know them in real life.
3. Forgetting that there's a person behind the screen.
This goes hand in hand with reason 2. It’s easy to forget that the profiles we see online aren’t the people themselves. We’re human beings, with emotions and thoughts and ideas. We’re not the statuses we update, the photos we post, or the comments we type. If we look someone up online, we make up this idea of them compiled of what they choose to post. Sure, what we put online is how we choose to portray ourselves, but we are so much more. Think about it. Would you rather have someone describe you like this: “That’s Thao. She likes The Killers, Lord of the Rings, and C.S. Lewis. Three years ago she went to Brazil and ate a lot of steak”? Or would you prefer something more like: “That’s Thao. She’s pretty quiet, but can be really funny sometimes. She’s into interesting stuff, but I like how she is so close to her family and friends.”
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we shouldn’t look up people at all. After all, we have to figure out if they’re serial killers or already in a relationship before we let things go any further. But instead of spending time digging and sifting through their online profiles, just do a cursory glance. Find out the pertinent stuff, and then just walk away. Put your phone down, close that tab, delete the screenshots. Don’t spend all of that time and effort on someone until they’ve proven to you that they’re worth the effort in the first place. Don’t think of them as a research project. Remember that they are a person. Take the time to learn about them through actual interaction.
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