Online ‘Stalking’ Dates

Be it a friend, an ex, a best friend’s boyfriend, or the girl who glowed up after puberty, we’re all likely guilty of a little internet creeping and I’m no exception.

Personally, I find my FBI ‘stalking’ skills most useful at 1.00am, when I’ve successfully matched a cute guy on Tinder.

Just last week, I was matched with a 24-year-old guy named Kent. Though I didn’t know his last name, it didn’t take long before I found his Facebook profile.

Initially, all I wanted was to briefly scroll through his Facebook photos to see if we shared common interests and a similar sense of humour.

Then, I started looking through his list of friends to figure out what kind of person he is: A gamer? Clubber? Church-goer?

Within minutes, I found myself analysing pictures from his endearing nerdy phase in 2012, and ogling at Spock, his ex-girlfriend’s Cocker Spaniel.

Then, I moved on to his Instagram, and was turned off by his #unnecessary #IG #hashtags. I decided he wasn’t bae material and within two hours, I clicked ‘unmatch’.

While my connection with Kent was brief, I started to reflect on my snap judgements based on his online persona and felt I wasn’t being quite fair to him.

Sure, he posted quotes on Twitter to make himself appear more intelligent, and his curated Instagram feed made him look #cool and #aesthetic, but it was how he felt he could best represent himself online.

Intentional or not, I was comparing Kent against all my Tinder dates by boxing him into categories and making assumptions about his behaviours and attitudes.

I guess that’s why it’s difficult to find a long-term partner in the online dating realm when it’s so convenient to look for the next best thing.

How we define the ‘perfect match’

While the convenience of Facebook and Instagram has made socialising easier for awkward turtles like me, it also contributed to the commodification of relationships, as people become easily disposable if they’re not a ‘perfect match’.

Many times, I’ve had girlfriends who were crushed to find out their date was a textbook F-boy, because they didn’t notice his Instagram feed filled with raunchy photos of him groping girls.

Conversely, I’ve seen others like me struggle to find a partner because they were too caught up comparing profiles.

Knowing too much about your date before meeting them can also take the fun and spontaneity out of first meetings. Imagine how boring your evening would be if you had to force-laugh at jokes and anecdotes you discovered through ‘stalking’.

That’s not to say ‘stalking’ is all that bad. While it can make you unnecessarily paranoid, actively trying to dig up dirt can also help to unearth certain red flags.

Once, my snooping around saved me from becoming an accidental homewrecker. Through my Tinder date’s tagged photos on Instagram, I discovered he was in a long-term relationship.

Knowing The Limit To Internet Stalking

At the end of the day, there’s nothing wrong with a cursory scroll through your potential date’s online feed.

But don’t look up their ex’s sister’s boyfriend’s Instagram page, because God forbid your fingers jerk and you accidentally double-tap an old family photo from the pre-VSCO days.

And let’s be real, how much can we really know about a person based on a curated feed?