The internet was pretty much in full swing when I was a teenager. That was during the first years of the millennium. Google wasn’t even that big a deal yet, and MSN and Yahoo were still pretty much the major players in search. People were getting more cushy with the idea of paying for stuff online. Thanks to companies like Amazon, eBay, and of course PayPal, everyday online transactions were becoming a reality.
In terms of social networks, Friendster just popped into the scene; before this, the majority of the social interactions occurred in instant messaging services, IRC chatrooms, and message boards. An internet-savvy girl (still rare during that time, I would like to think), I partook of all these social venues, and I learned very early about the intricacies and distinct differences of online social interaction as compared to the “real” stuff.
From my own perspectives, here are the key differences and influences social media and social networks have inflicted upon our already confusing dance of courtship, sexual interactions, and relationships.
Anonymity can be a Jerk Enabler
This theory applies fully to interactions that have romance, sex, and intimate relationships involved in them. When you present yourself as a girl online, it somehow gives even the most timid guys in real life the license to hit on you, and not in very subtle or attractive ways. It’s like there’s a huge “Harass Me Until I Beg For Your Meat” sign tacked on every female’s forehead, and if you think that was the case in the non-digital world, it gets magnified plenty of times when you’re on the internet.
Do I have a solution to this, you might ask? Well, aside from outright castration of most of the male internet-using population, I just live with the fact that men’s brains are easily addled by testosterone. I ignore and block the offenders, and make sure I don’t mistakenly send the wrong signals to those who are polite enough to carry a decent online conversation with me. If they get extra-stalkery and irritating, I’ll do my best to kill them with kindness, all the while trying to find out where they live through online tools that search by zip code, slowly narrowing down their locality and reporting the harassment to the police.
Of course, if I like a guy, it’s a totally different story.
The Internet Never Forgets
Whatever you put into the internet is likely going to stay there until the internet gets destroyed by a huge solar flare ejection, or multiple nuclear detonations. Think about this when you put up a tweet, wall post, and especially a video or picture of yourself. If it’s offensive and/or provocative, it will be used against you. If it’s vaguely offensive and/or provocative, it might still be used against you.
Be certain that if there’s anything you put out there, that you are willing to live with the ramifications of that message or image if it gets passed around, or even go viral. Stuff from your past gets recalled rather easily when it’s online, so that’s going to be one extra hindrance to dating if you have some skeletons in the closet. Then again, if the person you’re interested in is also interested in you (and isn’t a jerk), it’s likely that they’ll let it slide…
When You Chat A Lot Online…
I noticed that when I am in a relationship with someone and we spend a lot of time chatting online, when you do hang out in person, there is a deficit of stories to exchange. I thought it was just me, but a good number of my friends confirmed this phenomenon. I guess with all the time chatting online, you can sometimes run out of words to say and stories to share.
My solution wasn’t that radical, though. When I do meet with my current significant other in person, we just share less words, and have moments of silence, with a good measure of cuddling and other nonverbal forms of communication. Simple, right?
Have a great online and offline dating life, y’all!
About the Author
Stacey Thompson is a professional writer, marketer, entrepreneur, and a lover of weird little animals. She is based in San Diego, California, and is also maintaining their gal group’s site, Word Baristas.