At the weekend I was having lunch with two of my oldest girlfriends that I have known since high school. I won’t mention names here for reasons that should become clear. Both of them use facebook, one much more avidly than the other, but neither engage much with other social platforms.
The avid Facebook user had recently been on a date. They had seen each other a few times as the guy worked in the same place as my friend’s mum. He’d taken a shine to her and asked her out. They went out for coffee and my friend was surprised to note that he already knew something about her. He had found a justgiving page belonging to my friend (she had done a night time walk through London for a breast cancer charity). She was surprised to find that he knew she had done this.
When I got home I did a little poking around and managed to find out considerably more about my friend than her date had. I found book reviews she had written on Amazon and the record of her household on the electoral register giving me the names of her parents and siblings.
She thought the fact that he had looked her up on the internet before their date was creepy and had decided not to see him again. My other friend agreed – this was clearly disturbing.
This was surprising to me. As someone that puts so much of their life out there online, I think I would be insulted if I went on a date like that and the guy hadn’t even bothered to google me first! I’d expect him to know that winning topics for conversation would be food & science fiction at the very least…
That was a bit of a wakeup call for me – not everyone is as comfortable as I am when they realise what information about them is out there on the web. Googling people has become second nature to me – meeting someone new, see what you can find out about them first, anything to gain an advantage in business or in a social context.
… And perhaps I shouldn’t expect everyone I meet to know I love cheese!
You can find a whole set of these heart shaped icons from Smashing Magazine.