Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Social Net Sites – Is this the end of real-life dating?


I’ve long believed that social network sites are the root to all evil. I can’t remember a life without facebook, I check it on my phone on the train to work, on lunch at work, and on the train home from work...you get the picture.
In fact it’s time for “Hi I’m Nicola Watson and I’m a facebookaholic.” It’s fabulous for keeping in touch with friends far far away, or communicating if you’re phone is bust, but it’s also horrific for the relationship world. In fact, it’s killing it.









How can something designed to keep us all closer, end up driving people apart?

If I had a pound for every relationship social network sites have destroyed I’d be a billionaire. The perfect example - I found out my fiancé was cheating on me by access to his inbox whilst he was at work. (I didn’t snoop, it was left open!) That was a decently short engagement. Had I not seen the private messages between him and the girl, would I still be engaged? Who knows. I had suspicions because, surprise surprise she was writing on his wall. She might has well have pissed up his leg, so I could smell another chick marking her territory on my man. It clearly stated ‘in a relationship’ with me so apparently that status is just a red flag to the single cows... I mean bulls.

Then you have the break up. The removal of the aforementioned status. The private messages from genuine worried friends and not so genuine nosey losers, asking what happened and are you okay? I just split with my fiancé I’m on top of the world! Do you keep your ex on your friends list to cause drawn out agony as you see his new ‘single life’ photos, or do you remove him in an independent stance, only to regret it when mutual friends explain his wall is peppered with desperate single blondes. Tough call I say.

This brings me to my next social network point – the stalking. If anyone calmly states they never slyly stalk anyone, then walk away from them because they’re lying through their teeth. Everyone cyber stalks, just no-body talks about it. You heard your recent flame was once dating a girl called ----- (fill in the blank where appropriate) so you accidentally type in her full name, then systematically sieve through her profile photos to convince yourself you are simply a more fabulous version. Phew. What if she’s stunning? Then its insecurity city. Next time you meet for coffee you probe with seemingly innocent questions about the break up, and check he isn’t still holding a torch for her. This is so backwards. We should leave the ex files where they are...in the past. I remember when boyfriends simply stated the name of his ex, when they broke up and that was that. Now we can find out what her fashion sense is, hair length, age and whether she eats steak rare, just from social network sites. This surely deflates the self esteem and promotes weird obsessive stalking of complete strangers with whom you share one mutual friend but you now feel you know inside out.


Would you judge me differently depending on these two different profile photos? Of course you would.  I look like a high maintenance egotistical bitch on the left, but a down to earth adrenaline loving sporty girl on the right. So which person am I in real life?!  Would you take the time to find out, or judge either way and never call?

More damaging to the dating rituals is the fact that soc net sites force you to judge every book by its cover. These days, you meet a cute guy at a bar, and instead of asking for his digits it’s “so what’s your surname, I’ll add you?” He’s been a perfect gentleman all evening, but he’s only got 143 friends and his profile photo looks geeky, so he’ll never get a first date. Shame. But it really is a shame, because he could have become your leading man. You found him attractive in 3D, but not 2D. I have a personal rule, that if someone has cartoons as a profile photo, or any shot that doesn’t include them, then I am not interested. I think it screams insecurity, or simply shouts “I am unattractive and I know it, but I can cover my looks with humour and a head-shot of the dog from family guy.” This is a big fat no-no. But here’s the irony, the last love of my life, when he first added me had such a cartoon shot. In fact he had more cartoon profile photos than he did of himself. It was only because I was around him on a daily basis that I fell in love, and two years later class him as ‘the one that got away.’ Had I met him in a bar now, I’d add, peek at the cartoon picture and never call again.

So, is the answer to deny you’re on a social network site when you meet a guy, so you can date the old fashioned way? Giving him a chance to show you what he’s really like, rather than by his last status update. Should we all stop trying to judge a man by his ‘facebook cover’ and regardless of what it appears to show, try reading the first chapter anyway and hope we’re pleasantly surprised? I wish I had the answers, because maybe then I’d be less of a London single gal and more of a happily engaged town girl. *Sighs*.

P.s Don’t even get me started on the guys that private message you just to chat, but never actually ask you out on a real-life date. Bore off.

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