I have recently taken what I consider to be a very large leap in my dalliance with The Northerner: I’ve accepted his friendship request on Facebook (ah, 21st century dating: it’s all romance, innit?). It’s a move unprecedented for me with previous romantic dalliances and one that, I believe, is fraught with dangers.
Facebook is one of those portals where people feel inclined to overshare the minutiae of their everyday lives (follow me on Twitter here, folks) – and let’s face it: most of us (if you’re doing it right) don’t have lives that live up to the exacting standards we’d wish to be seen by prospective partners.
The immediate and obvious panic is that they can see not only the pictures you’ve chosen to share, but also the ones your friends have insisted on tagging, whether it’s the carefully chosen profile pic where you’re looking sober and semi-presentable, or the ill-advised, unflattering close-up from the Hogmanay party where you appear to have drunk rather more than is attractive.
That, of course, works both ways. In a rare, snatched moment of peace whilst one sits at the desk munching on a sandwich, a wander through the photographs of a man with whom one is dallying can be an alarming thing. Pictures of Christmases and festivals, dinner parties and birthdays, proof of his prowess in the kitchen and a large social circle are all very well until you stumble across the picture of said chap in a dress with no apparent explanation, and suddenly you’ve snorted Diet Coke all over the keyboard and are considering one’s dating position whilst trying to avoid probing questions from one’s colleagues.
Another possible case of peril is that they’re able to snoop through the communications you have with other friends. If you’re like me (which, frankly, I wouldn’t wish on anyone), it probably wouldn’t take Chap in Question too long to work out that the ‘good friend’ who’s already cropped up in passing conversation has actually, at some point, been rather more than that, because there’s something not quite right about the tone of the messages he leaves on your wall, and those photos with him probably evoke just a whispered sense of we’ve seen each other naked. Of course, the less said about his brother, the better.
And as if that weren’t all bad enough, there’s the fact that having easy immediate access to so much information is frankly sucking what romance there is out of dating. Part of the joy of the early stages of seeing someone is discovering things about them, learning what makes them tick and the things you’ve got in common. But knowing before you’ve asked what they read at which university; that they like the XX and recently lost the house hamster to old age somehow detracts from the excitement of the dating process.
Of course, the jury’s still out on whether all of that is better or worse than his being able to see that, however many embarrassing photos or otherwise there are of you and your friends, there are at least three times as many of your cat.