It used to be that the lovestruck, hoping to get a sneak peak into their romantic future or at least the likelihood of their compatibility with their potential beau, consulted ancient oracles, fortune tellers and Tarot card readers.
Well, modern daters, meet your new oracle: Google.
Google-stalking is like double-dipping at a party. Everyone claims they don’t do it when we all know that every single person is wearing their guilty face. It’s not obsessive. It’s just human nature to want to know every piece of information about a person that you can possibly get your hands on.
Now, I understand that you can’t possibly know everything about a guy based on the digital trail he intentionally – and sometimes unintentionally (and come on, you know the unintentional stuff is the stuff you care about most, right?) – leaves online. But what you can count on finding are a few cold, hard facts. Facts that could get you excited about the prospect that he could be The One, or facts that could have you shaking you head and saying he’s That One.
Google-stalking is like watching preview before a movie. The previews don’t necessarily give anything away, but it also doesn’t leave you completely in the dark either. At the very least, it’s an efficient way to weed out the good from the bad. And while you probably won’t discover the guy’s entire life story with a few clicks of the mouse, you’ll find out the important parts (read: the OMG red flags) – depending on your level of Googling skills and your understanding of synonyms and word permutations.
Translation: you’ll get the perfect snapshot, like whether he has a criminal record, is wanted in another state (or country), whether he’s married or even whether he was once a she. Consider it the best form of pre-date contraception, a way to ward off the unwanted consequences of a not-so-great guy.
My friends, I call this the Googleability Factor. It measures a guy’s popularity on Google. Now, this popularity can be good or bad, but what’s more important is why there is so much digital dirt on this dude. For example, you’ll probably be relieved to find that he has a (legal) job (always a plus; bonus points if he’s been recently promoted or received some other sort of recognition for his outstanding performance), a photo album devoted to his family on facebook or pictures in a newspaper from the weekend he ran for charity. Don’t be shocked, though, if you develop a debilitating stomach ache if you discover: Photos of him at party after party (and FYI, it’s even less attractive if he’s over 30. Remember, boys, the number of parties you attend should NOT be in direct proportion to your age), a lengthy blog entry in which he basically describes Pamela Anderson as the perfect woman on earth or his profile scattered across every dating site in Web universe.
Some say Google-Stalking (I prefer the term pre-screening) squelches any possibility for the excitement of discovering the many things one usually discovers about the other person on a first date: the fact that you both love Shakespeare revival festivals, the fact that you both get cravings for peanut butter and chocolate ice cream every time you go to the movies or the fact that you both loathe the sight of a dirty kitchen.
You still have those rollercoaster, explosive “me too” moments. The only difference is that you’ll likely know they’re coming.
Still feel like you’re cheating? Of course it’s up to you, but I’d prefer to know in advance if I’m wasting my valuable time with a dead-end dude – time that could be better spent during something you actually enjoy or at least time spent at home digitally sizing up other potential Romeos.
But of course the choice is yours.
In the end, wouldn’t you rather be in the know? Really, really in the know? Maybe the new first-date greeting du jour should be, “Hello, nice to meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you from Google.
Just don’t be surprised if he’s not surprised. Chances are, he did his homework too.