It’s hard to believe there was a time that if you wanted to know, say, the answer to 21 Down, you had to look in an encyclopedia. And if you wanted to know more about your crush, you had to call (from a real phone!) a friend of a friend who knew him way back when.
Oh, what the world must have been like before Google.
Now there’s a wealth of information at our fingertips. You can be a crossword champ with a couple of double clicks, and you never have to wonder if your new date is a serial rapist/former child star/closet Republican. Yes, you can find these things out … but should you?
Googling a guy might be the best/worst/best-again thing that has happened to modern dating.
- Googling a guy can do wonders for your personal safety, especially if you met your new friend online. You wouldn’t expect to find out that your dream guy was implicated in a dozen date rape cases, but hey, it can happen. It’s good to eliminate any obvious sociopaths and pedophiles before you let them buy you dinner.
- You can find out if someone is a liar, plain and simple. Is he telling you the truth about his job? His schooling? Is that picture of his “sister and nephews” really his wife and kids?
- You might find some of his best work. He may be an accomplished concert pianist or an amazing philanthropist. Maybe he won a bunch of track scholarships way back in high school or is an amazing freelance photographer. A lot of people downplay their best qualities.
- He might have been on a reality show. Every friend-of-a-friend has these days. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with it, but it’s nice to know up front if he ever made a “hot tub scene.”
- If you’re an actress and you Google the random guy you met at the bar and the first thing that comes up is “EMMY-WINNING DIRECTOR,” you might find yourself booking a commercial and making an easy grand. (True story.)
- Um, people share the same name. Quite often, in fact. What if the guy you found with three DUIs is actually the other “Sam Johnson”?
- Certain things may seem like dealbreakers when you see them online but are actually fine when you’re falling for someone and have great chemistry. Determining you aren’t compatible based on his Facebook profile seems hasty.
- Googling takes things out of context. A picture of him with a giant bong and a bunch of kids could be from when he volunteered to teach middle-schoolers about the dangers of drugs. You never know… And you also don’t know who is posting the content, or how much of it is accurate.
- Online stalking can’t replace real conversation. If you want to know more about someone, just ask! It’s way more exciting to hear someone tell you his life story than to read it online.
- It’s natural to talk about your past … slowly. Taking time to reveal your true self to a date is how people have dated for centuries.
- Googling can make you a bad date! So you already know about his first two jobs and how he backpacked through Europe last year; when he starts telling you about it on your date, your eyes will just glaze over. Or worse — you’ll creep him out by interrupting, “But didn’t you go to London before Greece?”
Remember that Google may have told him some things about you, too. We all have things in our past that are embarrassing, awkward, and regrettable. Would you want a guy to blow you off based on one bad Spring Break?
The fact is, we live in a world connected by social media. We expect our future employers to Google us; we clean up our Twitter timelines before going on interviews. So if you are inclined to Google, here are some tips to do it the right way:
- Set boundaries. If you’re looking for obvious signs of lying or criminal behavior, then stop at that. Don’t spend the whole night going through his photos from freshman year of college.
- Unless you find something that makes you seriously uncomfortable or afraid, don’t break your date. You could be missing out on someone great because of a misunderstanding.
- If you’re avoiding Googling because you feel like something is off — and you’d rather not know, because the sex is awesome — you should definitely Google him. Denial is not just a river in Egypt.