Relationships and dating: Going beyond the Internet

Last week’s episode of How I Met Your Mother revealed the untold truth about the modern first date: It’s become a myth.

It died with the likes of the true gentleman and free refills years ago.

In the episode, Ted, the main character, meets a girl at a bar and asks her out on a date. They agree, however, not to do any “Internet snooping” about each other before the date; they want to start things off with a clean slate, let some of that “mystery” be real this time.

We’ve all been there.

Pretending to act surprised when he tells you he just spent the last year teaching English in Budapest (but you already saw that Facebook profile picture of him awkwardly smiling with his classmates).

That “shock” when she says she just got out of a relationship (you saw that breakup status three weeks ago and recognize the ex-boyfriend from your chemistry class).

The same goes for forming friendships too; all the general facts and figures typically covered in the first five meet-ups are already known within a 20-minute discovery of a last name and a Facebook friend request.

But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, right?

I can instantly discover things we have in common (you likes DunkAroos too!).

I can predict if we just wouldn’t work (allergic to chocolate and hates New York City).

I save both of us time. Really, I’m doing us a service.

But I also do us both a disservice. I let a simple Google search and your Facebook profile become who you are.

I should know from experience, however — for good and for bad — they aren’t.

Sure, maybe you know five languages, but that doesn’t do either of us much if you’re too shy to effectively communicate any of them with me.

And maybe you are allergic to chocolate. But hey, that could just mean more for me!

There are certain things that even the most extensive Facebook profile couldn’t teach me. But too often, I let the findings of a Facebook profile search be the definitive word.

Searches won’t tell me you like writing handwritten letters or sharing that bubble gum with the comic strips inside.

They won’t tell me that story of how you used to sleepwalk as a kid into your parents’ bedroom screaming, “The kids are alright, the kids are alright!” And they won’t tell me that “#1 Phil Collins Fan” sweater you’re sporting in that photo is really a joke.

They won’t really tell me if you’re good or bad. But I let them believe they do.

Well then, maybe I should avoid the Internet, you say? Whatever, caveman. This is 2011, and whether it’s publicly spoken about or not, Internet “stalking,” or the more academically preferred term “researching,” has become standard.

Not even Ted from How I Met Your Mother could take it in the end. He caved in and typed his date’s name into Google. Luckily, he uncovered some pretty amazing things about her.

So here’s the truth; I probably won’t be deleting my Facebook anytime soon. But I also will try my hardest to not let the Internet completely speak for who you are. Unless of course, you “liked” that last Transformers movie.

That tells me enough.

_Rebecca is a senior in LAS._