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Getting to Know Someone: Is Online Snooping Fair??

I can’t help it. Every guy I meet, I look him up online to see what morsels of information I can find about him, good, bad, and ugly. Sometimes, those Google (and Lexis Nexus thanks to my reporter days) searches, would leave me pleasantly surprised to find local newspaper articles about awards for community service or mentoring; would scare me half to death– divorce records, domestic violence, DWI’s, warrants for unpaid parking tickets or theft charges; or downright leave me incredulous– i.e. finding engagement websites. When it comes to crime, I give people passes depending on the severity of the crime, how much time has passed and how old they were when said event happened.

In this digital age, you can find out more than you really want to know and it can be a real let down if a guy you’ve been seeing and enjoying his company has some very real skeletons falling out of your Google search. And I understand there are two camps: The first believes if it’s in the public domain, you have every right to find out what you can so you know what you’re dealing with. The second says, get to know the person and let them tell you about themselves.

I tend to have a foot in both places. I’ll admit sometimes I’m honest about my Googling, but I’ll playfully say that I have an online presence too, with nothing to hide. And I don’t. You’ll find mostly things regarding my career and that’s certainly something to be proud of.

But sometimes, I won’t admit that I’ve done a deep dig into a person’s available digital life, because I’m curious to see how up front they will be about the things that aren’t so pleasant. I think it’s a two-way street and when someone is honest about something I had already seen, I usually come clean and say that I looked it up, but wanted to give the person a chance to explain their situation and with context.

So, am I wrong for digital snooping or as I prefer, amateur background checks?

I think in today’s time, women need to arm themselves with information but be strategic on how and when and why they’ll reveal they have that information.

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5 thoughts on “Getting to Know Someone: Is Online Snooping Fair??

  1. I look up EVERYBODY!!!! I check social media accounts, court records, school records and the such!

  2. Digging Discography on said:

    Id be straight up lying if I said I’ve never looked someone up. Can’t say I won’t do it again either.

  3. dbaham on said:

    Haha, it’s so funny you mention this. So I used to look up folks ALL THE TIME. And I felt like it was one of those unsaid knowns — like everyone pretty much knew folks were about that Googling life. The former journo in me also rationalized the process.

    Until I started dating this guy earlier this year. Spoiler alert — it didn’t last long. Now, that was for a variety of reasons, but one of them was largely because he Googled me, found my blog, and proceeded to try to check me on things about the blog. The man read the blog back a year. A YEAR!

    And that’s when I realized how crazy it was that we do this to each other. It completely sidesteps the process of getting to know someone from your personal interactions with him/her. Had said dude just waited a bit, I would have told him about the blog. I would have warned him that most guys I date choose not to read it, but that if they do, I tell them the biggest no-no is using what I express against me. We never got the chance to have that conversation, because he jumped the gun.

    I give that really long story to basically say that I’ve done it. I used to do it all the time. I don’t do it anymore. I think it’s a defense mechanism because we’re all so very afraid of being hurt and let down by someone, when really if we trusted our instincts more often, we’d be better off. My instincts are good enough that I know if someone is not who he says he is (if and when I listen to them lol). I don’t really need Google to confirm it.

  4. Is it wrong that I don’t tell men I’m dating about the blog… Basically because no one has been making it past two months, so there’s no point. But yeah, he basically pulled a Big (from Sex and the City) and was reading Carrie’s book like, “You SAID.” He went back a year??? No, sir. No. I will not have it.
    That’s totally unfair especially in the life of an honest blogger. You change your mind, you have epiphanies, you contradict yourself, you reaffirm some things too. Any man dating me still wouldn’t have the playbook on how to deal with me if he read back the last three years. No way.

    I’d like to say I wouldn’t look someone up, but I can’t help it. I’m going to look. I do think we should let people reveal themselves to us and that we could use the google info as background but not as gospel.

    • dbaham on said:

      So I usually don’t tell guys about my blog if we’re casually dating. However, if we’ve been dating for a while and I actually feel like it has the potential to go somewhere, my writing is inevitably going to come up in conversation. And then so does the blog. That’s why it was so jarring how much he’d jumped the gun. I think we’d gone on 2 dates at that point. But he felt like he had a playbook on me because he’d read about my relationships for the past year.

      And you’re absolutely right. A) I change my mind on stuff all the time! lol… Right now I’m finding the beauty of dealing in the greys of life. If I decide to write about that (which I may), and someone reads it a year from now, that could be completely changed. Not as far as he was concerned though. What I wrote was etched in stone. B) I’m very selective in what I talk about, but I’m also very honest in what I select, so you can’t assume you know everything going on in my life just because I poured my heart out about one thing. I know you understand that. He did not. And it just made me feel violated like I had never been before by someone so early in the game. I mean, we know that what we write is for public consumption, but I’d never had things thrown back at me in attack before one by one by one. It was a lot. Clearly, it made me rethink my whole position on Googling someone lol.

      Now, the guy I’m currently dating is a blast from the past. So he knows about the blog, but he also chooses to not read it very often. We have mutual friends, so I think sometimes things are brought to his attention, but for the most part, it works better for us if he supports me on it from a distance lol

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