Hey, we just met. And we hit it off. And I kind of like you. The thing is, I know you exist on the internet. There are lots of places you could exist. Perhaps you’re just a simple Facebook & Twitter kind of guy. Maybe you’re a Viner. I hope you’re not a Tinderer…
I have your number. You have mine. I have your last name. You have mine. I know that I can type your name into google and maybe check out your website or see an article you have been mentioned in.
Right now all I know about you are the things that you tell me. It is a mystery. I like that. I like that I don’t know everything about you. I like that what you tell me I can judge for myself. I like that I can be genuinely surprised and interested when you tell me something. I don’t want to have to play that game, which we all know. Pretending not to know things. “Oh, I love that band too!” “I already know what type of music you like because it came up on my newsfeed you listened to them on Spotify but I will act surprised.”
I typed your name into Facebook. We have 22 mutual friends. I can see your profile picture. That’s about it. Right now I have limited access to you. And I kind of like that.
The thing is, I know that once we are friends, we have more access to each other’s lives than perhaps we are ready for, and certainly ready to admit to each other. Once we are Facebook friends, there will be a constant stream of information about you. If I like what I see, it will make me like you more. If I don’t like what I see, do I no longer like you or do I just not really like how you present yourself on Facebook? Are these two things the same? If I don’t like what I see is that a valid reason to write you off?
Whether it is conscious or not, we are constantly making judgments about what other people share on social media. It is superficial. But we do it anyway. Have you ever been more or less attracted to someone after doing the Facebook picture scroll? “Ooh, he looks GOOD when he’s tan.” “Ok, not sure about that long hair phase.” “Wow, he used to be kind of chubby.” I’m not saying these things make or break anything, and again, I know they are superficial. But we’re all lying if we say we don’t have those thoughts when we are looking at people’s photos. The problem is, how much does this consciously affect how we feel about the person?
Here’s a weird thing I noticed. If I meet an attractive guy and see that he had a slightly nerdy past, I trust him more. Is that ridiculous? Perhaps. It’s kind of like, okay, so you didn’t always have to rely on your looks to impress girls so you probably had to develop some respectable qualities. It’s such a ridiculous thing to actually look at and examine on paper, yet these types of assumptions happen every day.
There is all of this information, but if it doesn’t come from you, does it count? It is not yet socially acceptable to really admit to doing this research. We assume it’s done, but what we find we keep to ourselves. “I know he went on a trip to Thailand in college. But I’ll wait until Thailand comes up to ask about it. Don’t want him to think I was looking at his pictures.” Or IS it socially acceptable to be honest about these things? “Scrolled through your photos. Thailand looked awesome!” Yeah, that doesn’t sound right. I’ll just play it cool, or “play dumb”. “Oh, you went to Thailand?! That’s awesome. I didn’t know that. Even though when you friended me it was right in front of my face.”
I don’t want to see pictures of your ex. I don’t want to then start comparing myself to her.
When I’m not with you sometimes I’d rather not know what you are doing. Not because I want to be naive, because seeing you check in on Foursquare makes it less exciting somehow. I don’t want to know what you are doing because I am an anxious person. If I see what you are doing I begin to wonder who you are with, if you will contact me, if you don’t contact me what that means. I can jump to conclusions that make me question myself and whatever it is we have without ANY interaction with you. You are not here, but your Facebook is. I know I don’t have to look. But that takes willpower.
I know you exist on the Internet. But right now you only exist in my mind. Let’s keep it that way, at least for a little longer.