It occurred to me recently that social media has really destroyed the discovery process of getting to know someone when going out on dates. Social media makes it really easy to “learn” a lot about a person before meeting them. The danger with this, however, is that you may be exposed to information about the other person out of context. Maybe there are certain things about a person you might be willing to accept if you knew him/her a little bit better, but that feels very off-putting when you read about it, or see photos, without having met in person.
I often think about this in reference to my Facebook photos, about 98% of which were posted by other people. Or how my Facebook friends do not fully represent my strongest relationships since most of those people aren’t actually on Facebook. Or if they are, we almost never communicate through this platform. The point is, it’s not an accurate representation of me and it might lead somebody looking at it before meeting me to get a vastly different impression of what I’m really like.
One time I was having a friendly IM chat with somebody I “met” through online dating. Through the IMs he told me about a particular fetish he had and wanted to know if that was a turn off. I advised the gent that this was the kind of thing he might want to share after, or during, a first in-person meeting. Or maybe even after a few dates. My feeling is that certain things may feel possible with somebody once you get to know him/her, but without any context, or frame of reference, or solid physical attraction, it might be an instant turn off rather than a consideration.
The other consideration is the pace at which you receive information. When you meet somebody in person, you can ask questions, or only discuss certain topics, to guide the conversation and shape the experience. But if you look somebody up on social media, it’s just a big data dump without any background details.
When I go out on dates, I enjoy the discovery process and learning about things in context. Besides which many aspects of dating can only come from meeting, such as physical attraction, smells, laughter, eye contact, body language, etc. All this to say, get off of social media and start learning about people face-to-face.