I graduated from the 8th grade in 2007. To think about how much has changed in the world of social media over the past ten years alone is baffling to me.
When I first started talking to boys and had my first “boyfriend” in the seventh grade, our conversations began on AIM. We built connections together over the internet and were all too shy to talk to each other in person. Yet to us that was dating and everybody was doing it. And if you were number one on the guy you like’s “top 8” on Myspace, you basically made it.
Cut to ninth grade and not too much has changed. Facebook became a bigger deal and you had conversations back and forth on each other’s walls, posting bumper stickers, photos and inside jokes. That was flirting at 14. AIM was still a prominent method of communication (for me at least, in 2008) but texting all day with someone you were crushing on was getting bigger and bigger.
Towards the end of high school I started to notice the drama that came along with Facebook and the like.
Um why did he like that girl’s picture and not mine?
Why am I not in his profile picture if he’s my boyfriend?
How come it doesn’t say that we’re in a relationship if we clearly are?
I started really seeing the toxic tendencies that came out of being so connected all of the time.
Flash to college–2011–and all hell broke loose. You could see that the guy you liked was liking other girls’ Instagrams. Everything you needed to know about a person was on their Facebook. And if it wasn’t there, it was on their Instagram. And if it wasn’t there, they probably tweeted about it. Snapchat started getting huge and you could know pretty much anyone’s waking move if they put it out there. If there was someone you were trying to stop thinking about, unfollowing them on every form of social media was (and basically still is) the only way to stay strong and stay sane.
Don’t get me wrong, though, social media isn’t all bad. Unfortunately for me, and for many people my age, social media has played a major role in many of the relationships I’ve had. It’s a source of jealousy and fuels arguments. It can be toxic if not used responsibly. Sometimes you come across things that hurt you even if you’re not searching for them. Social media stalking is a dangerous game.
For me though, I’ve come to really appreciate social media when it comes to dating. There are quite a few reasons for that.
In college, I learned that my long term on-and-off boyfriend was hooking up with someone else behind my back. When we had just decided to get back together (by his decision). On Twitter.
I had a gut feeling that something wasn’t right, and used my female instincts to start snooping. The proof was right in front of my eyes and he was tagged directly in the tweet, so there was no cause for speculation. Once I found what I dreaded to be true on the Internet for everyone to see, I held on to the information and kept it for myself. I never even told my ex what I saw. I just ended it a few days later with my dignity in tact. I’ve got to give a shout out to Twitter, for providing me with the information and courage that I needed to do something I should’ve done a long time before that.
After college, dating was so hard. Nearly impossible in my opinion. I spent a long time not putting myself out there. Once I finally started to, I found myself getting approached a lot more when I was out. I didn’t even know what to do with that. I would get phone numbers from cute guys at bars and restaurants and we would start texting. Before I got too far, I would always take their phone number and search it in Facebook. Just precautionary, ya know?
Would you believe the STAGGERING majority of these men were in relationships?
Like, staggering. I’m not even exaggerating, it’s happened to me almost every time I’ve gone out over the last year to the point that it’s become comical. Consider their phone numbers & Snapchat usernames blocked.
I’m always trying to look on the bright side, though. Without social media, there’s a chance I could’ve taken things a touch too far with these lying, cheating scumbags. Thanks to Facebook and my handy-dandy iPhone, I’m able to ghost those a-holes before they know what hit them.
And sometimes, if I’m feeling a little sassy, I’ll call them out. Sorry bout it.
A more recent story doesn’t speak much to social media, but it speaks to the the notion of the internet really shedding some light about the people you’re getting to know. Everyone in this day in age does a little Internet sleuthing before a date or when they meet someone new. It’s pretty common, so this next story is nothing that unusual. Kinda.
I was at a bar earlier this summer with some of my friends when we noticed that our server was really cute. They dared me to leave my phone number for him and I agreed—something I never do. When the bill came, I chickened out. My friend decided to go ahead and do it for me and I got a text minutes after we left. We talked for a few days and I realized I couldn’t find him on social media. My friend did and told me everything about his life, so I felt a little better knowing he was a seemingly normal person with family values. What could go wrong?
We were planning a time to meet up and I still couldn’t find him days later on Facebook (I had to see for myself, right?) so I started Googling trying to figure out what black magic my friend used to find his page.
What I found instead stopped me dead in my tracks.
He was recently convicted of a pretty major crime, and it was the first thing that popped up when I searched his name. That was something that he failed to mention in our text conversations, obvi.
Now, I won’t get too much into the nitty gritty, for the sake of the anonymous man in question, but needless to say I’ll never leave my phone number for a stranger EVER again. And you better believe I’ll never be returning to said bar. Whoops.
And you should know, if we’re “talking” there’s a 100% chance that I’ve Googled you and know a good amount about you (including but not limited to your criminal record). And I’m not sorry about it. And don’t lie, I know you’ve stalked my Insta, too.
With all that being said, here’s the bottom line, in my opinion: Social media is really weird. Like really, really weird. But without it, who knows what kind of people we’d end up going on dates with in 2017. Stay safe, Internet sleuths. Social stalk with caution.