No Stalking Beforehand

I got my inspiration for this blog while watching an episode of “How I Met Your Mother”. Ted, the protagonist, goes on a date with a girl and they both make a promise not to do a digital background check on each other. This got me thinking about all the times I have gotten any impression from any friend or possible significant other from their online selves. It has become normal to “stalk” anyone online before meeting them (or even when we have met them) just to be sure of what type of person they are. Is our digital self an essential part of our personality? Why is it that when someone does not have social media it makes us doubt of their trust? These are questions that I wondered as I saw Ted progress in his date. Spoiler alert, at the end his friends do a background check for him and find out that the girl he is on a date with is amazing…been-in-the-cover-of-magazines amazing. When Ted finds out, he feels pressured to show this girl that he is also successful and the pressure makes the date fail immediately. 

Curiosity can make us reach levels of insanity. The more we are interested in someone, the more we want to know about them and the further we are willing to go, stalk-wise. Being guilty of this millennial tradition, I wonder what it was like before. I recently started dating a guy from The Netherlands, and being from Mexico myself, I know and made peace with the fact that nothing from our contexts was similar. We grew up in completely different ways, and as far as I am concerned, he could be a serial killer. But, a very important thing we share because of out similar age is our presence in the digital world. If it wasn’t for his Facebook and Instagram profile it would have taken me longer to trust him. The fact that I can see that he has a family, a life, friends and even pets make me understand his past, and therefore, trust him. 

I deleted my Instagram account before coming to The Netherlands, and I have to admit that in several occasions I have regretted this decision. The only reason for this is that I want all the new people I am meeting to know me, my style, see me for who I want to be seen. In reality, I have come to realize that this is a very new concept. Building an image of ourselves online makes us have to stand up to our own standards, most of which, we do not even live up to most of the time. I started considering my long-gone Instagram a dead part of my personality that needed to be filled with something else. How would everyone believe I was cool if they could not see it online? And, if it was not online, was it true? Am I cool without my social media? This may seem like a silly question, perhaps a shallow approach at my own personality, but I am being completely honest here. I doubted my own self-worth without a digital past to show off. 

So, how messed up are social interaction dynamics nowadays, am I right? And even more messed up when I understood that they are directly linked with the concept of personality, and that is linked to our perception of ourselves and that is linked to social media. It really is a circle all along, and I am not sure I like it. This is because it is scary to think that I need something other than myself to define, well, myself. 

I want to finish this blog with its beginning: Ted promised not to check his date’s social media and broke the promise, which costed him his chance with a girl. Even with the exaggerated nature of this story, relationship ways (either friendly or romantic) really have changed in the last decade. Everyone has a unique way to interact, but the underlying pressure of digital curiosity will most likely be there in this era. It is up to us to become as close or as separated from our digital selves, always remembering that we do have a choice to “be, or not to be” online.