Over at The Cut, Maureen O'Connor has done another deep dive into the world of dating trends, writing about "the ultimate abstinence": people who abstain from googling their dates. What she doesn't mention is that the people who are the biggest offenders on this front are hashtag "media people."
"Internet-stalking new acquaintances is, at this point, so ingrained that the idea of skipping the ritual actually alarmed me," O'Connor writes about her response to a friend who had purposefully not googled a new paramour. "Failure to look someone up online seemed almost rude, a sign of disinterest."
There's a reason O'Connor couldn't fathom a dating experience detached from google: she is a part of the (Liberal) Media Elite. It's literally her job to google people all the livelong day. Media people can never get enough information, even when we're on our time off. We love gossip, we love stories, we love pasts and histories – everything is valuable (or could be in the future). To not google would be to go against everything we're trained to do all day long: to try and find out "the truth."
But for people outside the media, life is less focused on this bottom line and often much simpler because of it. Last year, a friend of mine started dating a guy she really liked. One day we started gchatting about something he'd tweeted and I ended up accidentally finding his old LiveJournal from high school. Of course, I sent it to her with some favorite quotes: to me, sharing it was a hilarious no-brainer. But it totally horrified her – she didn't want to get to know a former self of the guy she was dating before she actually got to know his current self. (He also wasn't very happy when he found out she was coming face-to-face with documentation of a time in his life he didn't remember so fondly.)
I ended up apologizing profusely to both of them for my gaffe but I felt incredibly stupid, not so much for accidentally forcing someone to google by proxy, but because I actually didn't realize this kind of behavior was considered gauche to some. Before this exchange, googling wasn't an activity I considered harmless as much as I considered it commonplace. Like O'Connor, I knew that googling wasn't always considered a good idea but I couldn't imagine that people around me might not be googling. It was such a basic behavior of mine I didn't even think about it.
I am apparently not the only one who has this opinion, but only among a certain subset of people. When I polled the Jezebel staff about their googling habits re: dates, one coworker said, "I mean, how can someone our age NOT Google pre-date?"
"Googling a date just seems like due diligence," said another, adding that women in particular probably find googling helpful for safety reasons.
But others clarified that people in media might google their potential partners more just because they possess a certain level of internet savviness that not everyone has.
Being internet savvy in this instance doesn't even mean you're really good at finding people online as much as it means spending you spend a lot of time online because your day job allows you to. I highly doubt that the friend I have who works on a farm all day is as inclined to google a new match in her free time as the friend I have who works at a tech start-up is. It's probably about recognizing your habits more than anything else: until confronted with someone else's habit to not google, I didn't realize my "always google" strategy had an alternative.
That doesn't mean, however, that media people – with their combination of internet savviness and nosey, nosey natures – aren't still the worst google offenders. No matter what Thought Catalog says, never date a journalist.
Image via HBO