Beware the online crazies (and don’t become one)

In what feels like another life, years ago, I wrote about being hit by a bout of Facebook bulimia, the condition where you can’t help but obsessively check the status, images and wall of your ex and all their associates.

Almost five years later Facebook is the least of our problems when navigating the cyber-side of our real-life relationships.

Enter Google.
Google has powers like you’d never believe to track people down. Facebook’s privacy settings now means it’s rare you’d be able to see any info about the person you’re trying to find/stalk. But on Google EVERYTHING is there to be seen – job histories, twitter feeds, pictures, school reunion sites etc.

We are so used to googling for information that googling people to find out more is becoming par for the course, and where encyclopedia only mentioned the famous or dead, most people have some kind of virtual footprint.

So when date #1 and I were emailing before we met he wrote all he’d found out about me online and asked me to fill in the gaps.

I was a little bit perturbed. We know that people google each other. But you’re not supposed to let on that you do. It’s the great unspoken rule. And also because there are gaps – quite massive ones – when you search for people. Things like how they act under pressure, what the greatest moment of their life is, whether they’re kindhearted and a good friend. Things that are more important than the job they do and their email address.

The information Google has is powerful enough to make you act crazy.

Like the girl who contacted my flatmate via his YouTube account because he’d not got back to her via more conventional means…

It’s why I wouldn’t join a location-based app like FourSquare – if you’re going to be tracked down online that’s one thing. If the crazies then come to where you’re having a quiet drink with friends, that’s obviously quite another.


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