Has Social Media Ruined Dating?

by Patrick on August 25, 2011

In the film Up In The Air there’s a certain scene I really love that epitomizes how we approach love, lust, and dating. Alex (Vera Farmiga) and Ryan (George Clooney) are sitting on a boat when this exchange occurs:

Alex: You’re so cool. Mr Empty Backpack. (Ryan’s keynote speech)

Ryan: You know about my backpack?

Alex: I Googled you.

Ryan: You did?

Alex: It’s what us modern girls do when we have a crush. Does it bother you?

Ryan: It depends.

No surprise that we are now open books of information online, we worry so much about what employers, bosses, and co-workers will find about us. However it also means we can creepily stalk anybody we think is interesting or attracted to. No more dreaming of Bobby in science class, wondering what he must be like- you can go online and glean whatever information is out there. It’s absolutely possible now to have a crush on a person, oggle him/her online, and get over it entirely if you run across the wrong photo, tweet, or blog post.

I know because I’ve done it. Branding yourself has now gone from professional to personal.

This morning I read a great blog post from my friend Date Me D.C., who tells the tale of a date who “really did his homework.” After reading blog posts, tweets, and contacting her friends he constructed the perfect date. You would think it would be a home-run, something that only happens in John Kusack RomComs (complete with a guitar serenade)- but that wasn’t the case. She wrote, “I got the feeling like he studied for the date with the same aplomb that he took to final exams.”

Being able to look-up so much information about my pal may have made the date easier, but it also took all the fun out of it. There was no mystery, no natural discovery, no thrill of the chase.

We all want someone that “gets us” but with all the we share online isn’t it easier now to fake that feeling?

I often tell myself I don’t want to date a blogger or social media enthusiast, in fact I feel that I’d love someone that doesn’t go online at all- because I know she would judge me for who I am in the moment. Not trying to check all the boxes off a virtual list of loves and hates or prejudging me off an obscure tweet.

  • http://parisianfeline.wordpress.com Tatiana

    I think the onset of Myspace and Facebook really created this trend. Many people our age have become proficient in the art of Facebook stalking, and I myself have gotten fairly decent at finding out information about people online. With Facebook – sometimes I’m shocked to find people with totally locked down profiles (even though my own is similar) because many people are very open about who can find them and who can read their stuff. 

    Also, I think, people became really paranoid and started trying to use the internet to weed out potential weirdo-s, but I’m not sure how effective that is as more people become vigilant about their online identity. 

    I suppose in some ways, thanks to social media, dating has become less romantic. Though, many bloggers have talked about how they’ve met their significant others through their blog. I think Penelope Trunk mentioned it’s like her best dating tool – it’s how she met the Farmer. 

    So it can be a hit or a miss. You can find your future spouse or the person who studied you instead of trying to get to know you. 

    • Anonymous

      No doubt the availability of information helped- before we could do this we used to imagine our blind dates in the best possible light and we would wonder and question because we didn’t know anything. It’s the mystique. Now we have the ability to know for certain more about the people we date than ever before- all without interacting with that person.

  • Amber

    I never google people before or even after going on a date with them. I guess I’d rather see who they are in personal interactions rather than online. I’m online so much during the day for work that I don’t have a desire to scroll through a strangers online profiles. I feel bad but I rarely read friend’s blogs or go to their facebook pages. If I don’t do that for friends, why would I do it for strangers?

    • Anonymous

      With my job I definitely know the effects of leaving the online browsing at work and wanting a break at home.

  • http://twitter.com/neuroticwriter Pam

    I am so glad I never googled my boyfriends back when I was dating that is.  Well, actually back then myspace and facebook weren’t around. Lol!  I think you are right. I wouldn’t google someone or want someone who is really into the social media or into online stuff as I am.  We could chat, but it might be weird finding out stuff before I get to ask him personally.  I like the old fashion get to know them.  

    But I’m not going to lie.  I do google or look up new friend’s facebook stuff.  Just to make sure they are on the up and up.  Or stalk them…whatever.

    • Anonymous

      In the end it’s all branding: good or bad. However that also means what we see online may not be who the person actually is.

  • http://twitter.com/Rhonasaurus Rhona

    Google ruined one brief relationship I had about a year ago. The guy in question googled me and found a website of mine, it wasn’t a personal site but I didn’t really like that he’d done that. Especially when I could see from my site logs that he was looking to see if I had a b/f etc, I felt that he didn’t trust me. I talked to him about it, thought that would be the end of it and really it wasn’t such a big deal to google me one time, besides I’ve done it myself on occasion. However, he kept doing it continually on various sites and denying it even though I could prove it. We split up and he carried on for a good few months after that! It was really him that ruined things rather than google but there’s no doubt the temptation is too much for some people.

    • Anonymous

      I was going to say exactly that: the Temptation is sometimes too much.

  • http://twitter.com/leonachan Leona Chan

    Wow, it’s creepy that the guy asked Date Me D.C. *NOT* to drive to the date. As a girl, I think it’s important to have my own exit strategy safely in place. If I don’t know the person that well, I prefer to transport myself for the first few dates. (I get flashbacks of the Clueless scene, where Elton ditches Cher in the middle of nowhere after a party).

    Back to the question: It depends on how I met the person. Did we meet through mutual friends or an activity (IE: work, class, extracurriculars)? Then probably not because I trust my friends. Did we meet at a random encounter or an online dating site? Then I do a quick SM search to check if there are any serious red flags or conflicting pieces of information. (I want to avoid the crazies in town). The most interesting thing that I’ve ever found was someone who was registered on a “pick up” game seduction website. It’s a matter of safety.

    For the most part, I’m comfortable with what I put out about myself on social media. I usually don’t initiate the Facebook requests and once I accept it, I don’t really browse too much into photos/wall. Most of the guys that I have dated aren’t very active on social media (beyond FB). Anyway, for the first date with the stranger, my *quick* skim is for the purpose of gauging his personality and find common interests. If things get more serious, I am very logical. I consider our IRL encounters and use SM to help me decide if we’re truly *compatible* for a relationship, which is a different tactic than that guy: He used SM to shape himself as the perfect date =/

    • Anonymous

      With online dating I can understand the curious a person would have towards their potential date- without that personal vouch they want to know more.

  • Homework Guy

    So in light of an email from a friend saying “dude, apparently you’re an example of dating being ruined” and forwarding this blog post and its comments to me, I feel compelled to say something.

    I’m the “did his homework” guy from the post you refer to. Using SM to construct the “perfect date” was not the intention. My initial suggestion for our date was a wine tasting (I was originally thinking a pretty standard first date). But in the time it took her to respond to that idea, I showed her blog to some friends, and they seemed to reach the same conclusion that she seemed to when she responded – “yeah…y’all probably aren’t really each other’s types.” 

    Ok. Since both my friends and she said similar things, I was inclined to trust that. But, I enjoy meeting new people, and one can always be surprised, so I went with it.

    But then I decided – you know what, if we’re probably only going to get one date, I want to do something a little out of the ordinary/unique for her. 

    For space sake – I’ll focus on the strangest part – the “John Cusack” guitar serenade with the song she posted on her Twitter. Look, I’ve been on my fair share of first dates and would NEVER normally do that. But, remember I”m now thinking we probably have one date, the last thing I want is to bore her, and if I can give her an amusing story, so much the better. 

    I did email one of her fellow bloggers for song advice, but also to run the idea of singing by her – because I wanted some idea about how she’d react to something so weird. The friend said she’d probably enjoy it, so I went with it.

    And the result? Yes – it was weird. I knew it going in. I was nervous as all hell because I was afraid she’d hate it. But you know what, she had the most wonderful face while the song was going on, laughing that “OMFG I can’t believe he’s actually doing that” laugh. 

    So no 2nd date. That’s fine. A little stalkery – yeah, it was. But I decided to take a little risk, and if this was her reaction to that part “I felt like a million bucks after it was all said and done.” – then I’m fine with it. How often do we get the chance to make a complete stranger feel like a million bucks?

    So, I take issue with the idea that SM (or I!) ruins dating. In this case, it helped turn a date that probably would’ve been another run of the mill, no sparks, first date into this one. As long as the positive of the million bucks feeling outweighed the weirdness of the rest for her, I’ll take it.

    • http://spitonthestreet.wordpress.com/ melody

      I just have to reply to the homework guy and say ,”wow!” feel free to take me on a first date anytime! though I am not sure if you would take ‘making strangers feel like a million bucks’ all the way to south korea.

  • http://spitonthestreet.wordpress.com/ melody

    I have never actually thought about this patrick! But it could be because there aren’t a whole lot of options for me to date here… (oh korea, why do mainly odd weird foreign guys come work here?)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000815232669 Corrie Davidson

    great thoughts as always P!

  • http://profiles.google.com/kissinganddisasters Kissing and Disasters

    I always feel flattered when guys do their homework and research things I like.  But the moment they tell me that “oh, yeah i read that in your blog” i get paranoid and freak out. 

    it also works both ways I have spent way to much time internet stalking ex-boyfriends… fourquare will be the death of me

    -K

    • Anonymous

      I feel like we like moments like those because it shows that a person genuinely cares- and that’s how stuff like that should happen. It should never be like a list to check-off or a test you are cramming for.

  • Scrabbling Artist

    Wow.  I just read the blog entries by Date-Me-DC, and I can only say that dating someone who blogs all about her dates would just add a whole new layer of awkwardness and anxiety to the whole experience.  And she was so unforgivingly critical of everyone!  Based on that, I’d say I’m tipping a little less pro-social-media-dating than before reading these today.

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