Is Judging Someone On Their Social Media Presence Shallow, Or Accurate?

I’ve been blowing off the same guy for weeks now. We met at an event recently, he’s incredibly good looking, easy to talk to, pretty sure he’s not a serial killer – on paper, a perfect person to consider going on a date with.

So I must have a valid reason, right?

The truth: I’m weirded out by his Facebook profile. And it’s making me feel shallow – but should it? 

It took me a hot second to come to the conclusion that this was the reason I kept “forgetting” to respond to text messages, or never felt inclined to join the social gatherings he invited me to. It was when I once again “reviewed” his Facebook profile to try and put my finger on why I had absolutely no inclination to spend time with this man,  it all soon became very clear. The culprit: a feed full of “humor” videos that didn’t make me laugh, the reshare of a throwback Playboy cover (to specify: not in an artistic sense) and a few clickbait quizzes. I had the same uneasy feeling in my stomach I’d had every time he’d ask what my plans were on a given evening.

If I don’t jive with the articles, videos, and photos someone’s sharing publicly on their social media, then I probably won’t jive with said person, right? Or am I being a snap-judgment jerk?

You don’t have to be a relationship expert to know that dating has changed drastically over the past decades – even so in the past few years with the introduction of dating apps and social media. With so many new additions to the game, things feel more complicated than ever.

Because we have so many more touch points to learn about someone aside from just being in person and talking to them, we can jump to conclusions based on profile pictures, Tweets, and dating bios before even knowing what their voice sounds like. As someone who self-proclaims to be “better in real life” than online, I’m oftentimes anxious I won’t get a fair chance from someone if my Instagram captions aren’t witty enough, or if I story my dog way too often. “Give me a chance people! I am NOT my Instagram!” is what I want to yell.

But then again, all of these touchpoints give us the opportunity to do a little dating espionage to pre-screen whether or not we want to spend any time with a certain someone new.

In the pre-cell phone and social media days – or so I imagine this is how it would go – you met someone in person or got fixed up with someone through a friend. You’d have to schedule a time you both could meet – this in and of itself could take weeks. When you’d finally get to the first date, you’d have a pleasant time and set up the next date. The dates would continue for a few months. You’re feeling it. They invite you home with them for Thanksgiving. You’re thrilled. You spend five hours picking out the right sweater and pants combo. You bring a pie. Apple. No, pumpkin. And then comes the misogynistic and slightly racist banter between your suitor and Great Uncle Mike. Four months of your life have been spent wasted pining for someone whose touch now makes you dry heave.

In today’s world, all it takes is a deep dive (max one hour) through their Facebook feed, a string of heated Breitbart article reshares, and you’ve saved yourself months of deciphering text exchanges and the mental warfare of deciding whether or not your black off-the-shoulder top was the right choice for that second date.

Social media is like our modern dating fairy godmother. I know there are certain people who “don’t want to judge a book by the cover” so they refrain from checking someone’s social media account before going on a date with them. Noble move. I applaud you, brave souls.

But if someone walked up to you and told you “hey, I just want you to know the person you’re about to go on a date with has the complete opposite political viewpoints as you, AND is more of a cat person” you’d maybe think twice about jumping into your pumpkin carriage and heading off to the might-be-kinda-awkward ball.

At the end of the day, our digital personas are part of our personal personas because it’s how we choose to share our lives, our interests, and what matters to us to the world. If anything, most people only represent a curated version of themselves on social media, so shouldn’t it be a representation of what they hope and aspire to be as a human?

I do think there’s an important distinction though to make between thinking less of someone because of their social media presence versus realizing you’re just personally not into what they’re sharing or portraying. “Good for them, but they’re not for me” should be the motto.

After all, life’s way too short to spend time on someone you never want your mom to friend on Facebook.

News Reporter

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