Somewhere (right now), there is a woman out there running a background check on you. Yes, my darling boys, at one point or another you have been Google’d.
I recently read an article advising people that potential employers will take to the web as part of an unofficial “reference check”; using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles to get a more complete picture of you. Why? Because they’re going to be less inclined to employ the person with a Facebook stream that belongs in the hangover hall of fame.
Guess what? Women do this too.
I’ll admit, I have Google’d a man or two, and some of my girlfriends have asked me to do it for them, so that could say with a clear conscience that they’ve never done it. But it’s being done…
Now, I want you to do it.
Seriously. Open another browser window.
What’s the first thing you see? Is it you? Is it the dude with the same name as you? Whatever you’re seeing, she’s seeing. For example, I’ll use the last time I Google’d a man (funny enough I was teaching someone how) to show you what she is seeing…
She searches for: Object of affection’s name + city + occupation (yes, that’s why we ask where you work).
Results: 132,000 hits about random shit; 20 hits about you; 2 that are strong leads. (Follows the two leads…)
Lead number 1: Your LinkedIn profile. She sees that in the last 4 years you’ve had 6 different positions. (She wonders if you have commitment issues…)
Lead number 2: A random news article from 3 years ago that has your comments about the topic. She reads to see if she agrees with your viewpoint. She does. (Point for you!)
Face-stalking: you add her as a friend on Facebook. Perfect…she’s, gone through your profile: what you do on the weekend, what your friends look like, and especially your photos. She’s creeped your wall posts, checked to see what you’re a fan of, and she’s checking to see what others are saying about you. Back to photos: that one girl who appears in a lot of them? She’s checked that profile too. (Until she realizes it’s your married sister…)
Getting back to your wall…is she reading:
“wicked game last night! You may have won this time, but next week I’m kicking your ass! LOL”
Or, is she reading:
“dude…how did you make it home last night? LOL you were EFFED UP! What happened to that girl in the blue dress? What was UP with that?!?”
(You better hope that she wasn’t the girl in blue dress.)
Foursquare: uhm, are you the Mayor of the Brass Rail? Yup…then that’s what she’s reading. For my non-Toronto readers, the Brass Rail is a strip club.
Twitter: Does she see you tweeting about your interests? Who are you tweeting to? Are you saying anything or just RT-ing quotes from Reverend Run and Diddy? (no, that’s not a good thing)
The scary thing about this approach is that she could very well be judging you on PAST behaviour or shit that is out of context. Like your friend’s comment about the girl in the blue dress? It sounds like you did something naughty with her, but it could’ve been a 3 a.m. Girl that you guys were making fun of…but she won’t know that. However, if you’re the Mayor of the Brass Rail, I can’t help you spin that; you’re on your own hun.
So how do you protect yourself? Well, if the first date is kind of like a job interview, think of your entire online presence as the resume. As for those limited and locked profiles…well, in first impression world, it doesn’t say that you’re private…it says that that you’re hiding something.
So whether you’re a player or prince charming, here’s what you need to do in order to protect your game from the dreaded Google search:
1: Scrub your Facebook. Facebook is the Pandora’s box of dating, because you’re kind of putting a lot of your life out there, and too many of you have albums filled with incriminating pictures, even though they’re mostly innocent. Go through your photos and put them in context by adding comments. Un-tag the ones that are truly incriminating or ask the poster to take it down.
2: Think before you tweet. Twitter is hard to put into context because you only have 140 characters, so think of Twitter as the conversation at a party, are you saying ANYTHING or are you saying SOMETHING? Crack jokes all your want, but every once in a while slip in something of substance to prove you have half a brain. Oh, and beware of the Twitpics…
3: How many self portraits did you take BEFORE you had a camera phone? On Flickr, your photo stream should include more than just self portraits in the bathroom and what you had for lunch today…she will get bored really quick. Throw in a picture of your cute niece, your dog or even better, something that shows your interests.
4: Verify your public records (that includes court cases, school records and memberships)
5: Delete your old profiles. Hi5? MySpace? Friendster? They still exist…even if you haven’t logged in.
6: Delete your ex-girlfriend. Remember the days before you had a computer? You would have a box shoved somewhere to hide mementoes…well that’s what a USB drive is for. Take the old stuff offline and store in on a USB key…because her finding memories of your relationship online is just like her finding that box.
No person should judge you without a proper conversation face to face. She’s (hopefully) not using the Google search to make a judgment; she’s using it to make an informed judgment…it’s all about the information darling boys. It’s all about the information.