In a recent essay in Naked City magazine, community activist Jason Dilts described Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, as a gay rights pioneer. He asserts that Zuckerberg’s creation of a social network has “forever changed the means by which [homosexuals] . . . negotiate the terms of their lives. His digital quest for openness has picked the locks of closet doors for the last half decade.”
This is certainly true for my gay and lesbian clients, but it’s also true for my straight clients as well. Social media has changed the terms by which ALL romance is negotiated. It started with chat rooms and message boards and progressed to Craigs List and online dating sites. Some have lamented that they wouldn’t find meaningful encounters through these mediums or that they distrust them because other users may be inauthentic. But I’d urge you to remember that too much authenticity may not be a good thing in terms of attracting the interest of someone to date. A good rule of thumb is wait until the second date to be a little more “authentic!” I’m not saying it’s OK to be fake. But if you adopt the philosophy advanced by matchmaker and dating coach Rachel Greenwald that the purpose of the first date is to land the second date, it makes sense to start out slow. Let your date dip their toes in the water with the first date and amp up the authenticity on dates #2, 3, and beyond.
Returning to the notion that social media has changed the terms by which ALL romance is negotiated… This is not only true, it creates a need for a comprehensive image-building strategy across digital mediums. This is why I offer Digital Footprint Management to my clients. You already know that if you are using digital media, your life is no longer compartmentalized into “online” and “offline” categories. The lines are increasingly blurred between the facets of ourselves available to our friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances. But have you ever thought about what your Facebook, FourSquare, LinkdIn, MySpace, and Twitter presences say about you? Are those messages accurate? Are they flattering? Are the messages consistent and uniform across personal and professional networks or are there discrepancies?
Remember, there is likely only one or two degrees of separation between you and the person you will fall in love with and commit to. It’s highly likely that someone in one of your networks will be the link between you and Mr. or Mrs. Interesting! But if you’re not presenting a public face that is genuine yet impressive, you make it harder for the light bulb to go on in the mind of the person mind who will introduce you. You make it harder for the person you want to attract to do their due diligence and research you online before they go out with you. Which message are they to believe? Drunken party girl gyrating across the bar in a Facebook photo album? Or serious, buttoned-up corporate headshot on your LinkdIn page?
As Dilts observes, “With news feeds, relationship statuses, and photo tags, social media makes it pretty hard to hide the truth. Sure, privacy settings can safeguard you to some extent, but the genie is really out of the bottle” as new media piggy backs onto slightly-less-new media which was built atop the bubble of not-very-old media. So, whether you choose to manage your own Digital Footprint or employ a professional to tidy things up, just make sure your dating personae are sending the same message.
Here’s to better dating!
The Date Maven