Queen of Bows
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Online People Hunting


Online People Hunting

“So I like this guy. . .”

“What’s his name? Is he online? Does he have a facebook?”

I have heard the above more times than I can remember. Some people are better online sleuths than I could have ever imagined, pulling up information on the target’s family, dating history, current interests, job, immediate friends, and what they drink before knowing their middle name. I’ve even witnessed finding somebody online through 6 degrees of separation without having their name to begin. And then there are references added in conversation after “well he’s 5’11” and works for that company,” but “go look him up on such-and-such social media page” (guilty). This all turns into Google toolbar popular name searches, and limiting oneself to “only visit her page once a day. . . until she comments back.”

I love networking on the interweb, looking up colleague contact information or who to send a résumé to on LinkedIn, and seeing pictures of my family overseas with just the click of my mouse. However, I’m not sure where to draw the line between staying in touch, research, fans, and online stalking.

Fine, we’re sharing photos, funny quotes from the bar, fleeting thoughts, and pieces of our lives with each other online. But how quickly or often does that turn into crafting cleverly aimed status updates, steadily monitoring the latest from others, staring at photos for longer than one would like to admit, passive aggressive blog wars, and referring to the goings ons of another’s day as though you were there simply because you read it on twitter?

I am of the school of thinking that this information and image availability adds fuel to fires that were barely burning. For example, I used to have an insane crush on Owen Biddle. Yes, I still stand by the opinion that he is a hottie and talented and we just might get along quite nicely. But it’s ridiculous. (When I type in “twitter” to Firefox, Owen’s page comes up right there with the twitter.com home page.) Sure, we get celebrity crushes and daydream of those we see on screen and on stage. However, I believe it’s the ease of just enough access that steered me into this one. It started with a physical + musical attraction after eyeing Mr. Biddle on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. I opened a new tab in my browser while hulu remained open in another, and found the bassist is on twitter. Of course I follow him, making sure to mention our commonalities in music in my tweets, and hope he will virtually fall in love with me. I later find online articles about the musician, including one citing his girlfriend. I verify her existence via myspace, and magically, my whirlwind virtual romance with him is done and we go back to being platonic strangers with my avatar following his.

We may have been taught not to stare, but nobody advised me on etiquette and limits of privately staring at pictures, online diaries, and other info of those we love, hate, and just want to know about. Obsolete are the days of monitoring someone’s AIM away messages- now you don’t have to know the person but can pull up photos, live updates, and family information from home. Which raises a bunch of questions: Is it impolite to stare at pictures? Is it crazy to monitor someone’s blog to keep tabs? Are facebook photo albums creating crushes that otherwise would not have existed? Do online crushes count?  In an age of technodating where it is acceptable to do a simple security check online someone before the face-to-face meeting, how much is too much?

Image Layout: Margaret

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