I’m pretty sure that tonight’s episode of How I Met Your Mother was one of the best episodes of any TV show I’ve ever seen in my life. Definitely in the top 10. I literally fell off my couch laughing when Lily planted the Creed CD in Ted’s college girlfriend’s dorm room. And I’m almost 100% sure that I would consider a girl owning a Creed CD to be proper grounds for ending the relationship as well.
Speaking of ending relationships for silly reasons–alright, owning a Creed CD is NOT a silly reason, but I swear I’m about to go into some silly stuff–I met a rather cute girl on Saturday at the mustache party/show that I attended. No big deal really, that’s not the point of this post. The point is that when I got home, I immediately did exactly what I hate, I went on Facebook and looked her up. Her profile permissions allowed me to see everything. I’m not if it’s because we went to the same college or if it’s because we know a couple of the same people (which is what made it so easy to find her) or if it’s just because she has them set to allow anyone to see anything, but it was all there.
It’s probably pretty clear that I am an internet nerd and wouldn’t know what to do without the internet,1 but this is one of the ways that I think the internet has ruined things. In reality, things may not be ruined, just changed, but for the sake of the next few minutes of your life, let’s assume that they are indeed ruined beyond any possible repair and, as a species, we’re all screwed. Being just short of 26, I’m in that age range that is just young enough to have gone through most of high school and college with the internet, but is still old enough to remember life before the internet. So keep in mind that that’s where I’m coming from with this.
My last four relationships cover my life back until I was 18. If you add up all the time in between them and since my last relationship ended it’s only about ten months and I was friends with all four of these girls prior to dating them so I can’t say that I have a lot of experience in getting to know a girl in the context of trying to start a relationship. It’s not completely foreign to me, that time in between those relationships wasn’t spent avoiding the ladies, but still there isn’t a lot of experience there. However, what I do know from these ten months and from what I remember from high school is that you need to get to know someone over time, directly, and in an organic way. The internet has kind of ruined this idea. Maybe not for everyone, but definitely for people like me that have no self-control to not access easily available information.
You can get to know a ton about someone in just a few minutes now. Log onto MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, their blog, etc and it’s all right there. There is so much information about people out there now and it’s so easy to find, but it even goes beyond just things that people put up themselves, you also see what kind of people they are friends with and the kind of interactions that they have with each other. And you have no real context for this stuff at all. None. It’s just there to speak for itself. You don’t know the inside jokes or the dynamics of these friendships. You can only take them at face value and that’s usually not a very good thing at all.
So now, rather than getting to know someone through conversation and spending time together, you found out everything about them in roughly five minutes. For some, this may not be a big deal, but for me, it’s a horrible thing. I don’t want to get to know anyone in this manner and I feel the same about people getting to know me so I keep most of my profiles on sites private except to those that I’m friends with in real life (IRL OMG!!). Twitter and this blog are two exceptions, but I think there is good reason there that doesn’t need to be explained. Anyway (how many times have I used this word?), I’m the kind of person that will easily see one or two things that are minor turn offs and lose interest right then and there. They won’t even be big things at all, such as owning a Creed CD (or Uggs), they’ll be little silly things that I wouldn’t even care about if I just found out about them in a more organic matter. Nevermind the fact that most of them can probably be explained away very simply. But you present it all to me at once like this and it’s a whole different story. They become dealbreakers.
I’m sure that many people don’t have this problem at all, but I have no self-control to not look people up online…hmm…that sounds like I stalk people. Yikes! Is it stalking if you don’t really pry beyond a few socially accepted websites? I guess that’s a question for another time, but the point here is that I have no self-control and I’m easily turned off by little things so the internet has ruined getting to know new people outside of work or any social circles that I’m already a part of.
Let’s go back up to the beginning of this rant and get back to the girl in question, at the party I thought she seemed pretty awesome. We had great a conversation throughout the night and I was getting a decent vibe, but then when I looked at her Facebook I found a few little tiny things that made me lose some interest. Again, things that wouldn’t bother me in the least if I found out about them over the course of time, but that’s not how I found out about them. This brings us up to where I stand right now. I’m going to try to ignore these things and move past them, but it’s hard for me to ignore that this is the world we live in now. I take very good advantage of all of the great things about there being all of this information at our fingertips, but, at the same time, I can’t turn away from how scary the effects that it is having on social interaction are. I think that once people already know each other a bit, technology and social media can be great in helping continue that relationship, but in the early stages…eek!
1That’s right, bitches! I included a footnote! Recognize! Just before I typed this up, I was going through Google Reader to try and get rid of a few subscriptions to sites that I lost interest in and when I was done, I still had 172 sites in there. This isn’t the first time I’ve go through and purged stuff either. This is ridiculous though. I get like a solid 500-600 new articles in there every day. It’s almost a full time job to keep up.