I’m not sure how you ended up on Blisstree, since it’s filled with stories about bikini waxing, detoxifying foods, alternatives to milk, breast implants, and what we women stick up our vaginas. Well, maybe the last two interest you. But chances are, you happened upon this story by Googling my name. Maybe I met you at a friend’s party, or perhaps on one of those dating websites that continue to prove I am a glutton for punishment. We may have already shared in a few drinks, some idle conversation, eye contact, a laugh or two, a hug, or maybe a little smooch goodbye. One of us may have remarked that we should get together again. It’s even possible that we have yet to go on date #1, and you’re just doing some preliminary research. I don’t blame you.
To imagine dating before Google is like picturing the 80s without John Cusack films. What did our parents do before you could properly screen your date? Well, judging from the divorce rate among baby boomers (estimated to be more than 50%), you got married and horrified and divorced. Or, at least, that’s what my mother did.
I hope you don’t feel threatened by what I am about to tell you. My potential boyfriend research is pretty thorough. (Hello, Master’s in journalism!) I start with a rudimentary Googling, and then I’ll parlay clues, like the user name that keeps popping up in comments on websites and also happens to be the name on your blog – touche33, artbruttt, or what have you. And I’m just getting started.
One chick I know goes so far as to hit websites like PeopleFinder. I don’t bother, because those sites don’t really tell me much, usually just your last four addresses, the property you or your family owns, and maybe your mother’s maiden name. Amateurs.
But I’m not searching for info on your criminal or driving record, or even your net worth. And, though it may seem like it to you, I am not a stalker. However, I am very sick of dating closet douche bags, and I’d like some assurance that you’re a kind and decent human being.
It’s no surprise that a recent study reported by The Huffington Post found that 32% of Internet users overshare personal info online, while nearly 60% of iPhone users admit to feeling poster’s remorse. (For the record, this letter doesn’t count as oversharing, since it’s been vetted by my trusty editor, and because I would happily disclose all of this over a beer.)
See, it wasn’t until I moved from a casual to a more serious relationship with Google that I discovered how the World Wide Web tends to illuminate one’s true character. Usually, the bad qualities rise to the surface more readily than the virtuous ones – like on the first page or two of a Google trail – though sometimes it takes a little more digging.
Once, a handsome comic book writer managed to date me for close to four months and hide the fact that he had a loving, long-term (and possibly pregnant) girlfriend at home. We connected on a dating site, and I did a casual Google before we met face-to-face. I found a geeky Twitter feed (140 characters of Marvel comic mania, obscure graphic novels, and enthused reports on the progress on his own books), comments he’d made on other people’s blogs, a professional website, plus some press coverage of his strip. All of it was pretty innocuous, though I didn’t get most of his pop culture references.
When I abruptly stopped hearing from him, I hopped back online and examined Facebook, various comic websites, and Flickr. It finally came together when I cross-referenced his and her Twitter feeds. I learned of the couple’s morning coffee ritual, a recently opened shared bank account, a dying house cat, and their shithole-of-an-apartment.
Two days later I received a 1-800-FLOWERS delivery, a mixed bouquet more appropriate for your mother than your mistress. The card informed me that I was lovely. I decided to respond via email:
Thanks for the flowers. You’re an asshole. Please give my best to your lovely girl friend.