If you are a young adult woman growing up in the digital age, chances are that you know how to navigate the web like a lion prowling the Sahara. You might as well own the internet. Google Chrome is your slave. There isn’t any information that can hide from your determined eyes. Today, all the information recorded in the world is at the click of a button. What do most young women use this power for, though? Internet stalking boys.
Now, I don’t mean stalking in the traditional “oh my god, get a restraining order” sense of the word. What I mean is that if your boyfriend says he has never talked to that girl from work before, you know exactly where to look to make sure he isn’t lying.
I have no shame in admitting that I am a professional in this field. When I started talking to (not even dating) my first boyfriend, I already knew everything about his life for the past five years. As a single woman, I find it to be my duty to creep on a potential boyfriend’s social media to make sure nothing seems fishy. After all, you don’t want to end up being the other woman.
This pastime seems to be common in most women though, more so than men. I find that when I tell my friends that I am interested in someone, the first thing we do is look up his Facebook. And then his Twitter. And then his Instagram. And by the end of hours of relentless internet stalking, we will have found out basically anything needed to know about a person before putting in the serious effort it takes to date them.
The trick though is not to let the other person know. I wish I could erase the memory of commenting about my boyfriend’s family vacation to Hawaii before he had ever even told me about it. Quite awkward. If the person knows that you have been looking at their social media for hours, imagining what your one year anniversary will be like or how it will go when you meet his mom, then automatically they will be creeped out. It’s natural. However, so is internet creeping.
Social media has changed the world of dating in numerous ways. Not only has it transformed the lingo, but also the very atmosphere of dating culture. Apps like Snapchat or Instagram leave even greater room for examination on the meaning of every move between people. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard a friend say, “He can watch my Snapchat story but not text me back?” then I would be a very wealthy woman.
The amount of information people post about themselves on social media leads relationships to be dissected. What does is mean that his ex-girlfriend liked his photo? I made my profile picture a photo of us but he didn’t, does that mean we aren’t serious?
Just thinking about these situations gives me anxiety. Twenty years ago if we wanted to talk to someone we liked, then we would just pick up the phone and call them. They didn’t answer? Well, I’ll just have to call back later. Now, there is analysis into every single aspect of communication. A period after a word means something totally different than three periods and texting a person back too fast will subsequently lead to you seeming too eager.
All of these aspects, in theory, are utterly ridiculous. So your boyfriend liked another girl’s picture? Does it really matter? Ideally, the answer would be no. But, in this new world of relationships where everything is dissected and analyzed, these aspects of love are more important than people would like to admit.
If a girl is interested in you, most likely she will already know your mother’s maiden name and your Snapchat best friend long before your first date. This is just the way humans are when it comes to love. We are paranoid, confused and vulnerable. Social media has created a platform for these emotions to run rampant. Honestly, it is extremely exhausting. Sometimes I think about how much time of my life I have spent stalking potential partners and it disgusts me. None of it really amounts to anything. But, I know that I will keep doing it because I want to make sure not only that I am the only interest in his life, but that his social media displays reflect the type of person I want to date.
Wouldn’t it be so much easier just to ask them though? Think about going on a first date without having looked at any of this person’s social media. Every aspect of themselves that they are sharing, you’re hearing for the first time. That’s something special, I believe. Consider how much less anxiety there would be if you didn’t know that James liked Anna’s photo and now you’re looking at all of her pictures from the past six months to see his consistency of likes on her posts. If we are learning automatically not to trust someone because of what we have seen from social media, then how strong of a relationship can really be created?