Dating and relationships are tough enough as it is without adding anything to the situation. But social media amplifies life times 100.
As a community manager for the online MSW degree program at USC and the co-founder of TheCommunityManager.com, to know me is to know me on all of my profiles – Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Foursquare, Instagram, YouTube and my blog. That’s an awful lot of digital personality to go around, and I am not alone.
As any good community manager does, I crowdsourced some of the best and brightest professionals from #CMMeetup and #CmgrChat to hear their rules and regulations for dating in today’s super online charged world. The first thing I learned from my discussions on all of these networks about dating is that every person uses each platform very differently.
Then add in the possibility that you’re seeing someone and all sorts of issues can come up:
- Do I friend him/her or does he/she friend me?
- Should I “subscribe” to them first and see only their public updates? (Facebook’s newest feature.)
- When should we add each other? First date? Fifth date? After you’ve rounded home base?
- How long do I wait to start commenting on all of his/her status updates and music selections from Spotify? (And is it OK to judge musical tastes so soon?) Or do I play it cool and not comment at all?
- …Who’s that girl/guy that’s all over their page?!
- Things are going great; do we update a relationship status once we’ve had ‘The Talk?”
So what’s a digital native to do?
One person I spoke with (we'll call him "Frank") made a “Dating List” on Facebook of the girls that he’s met or would be interested in dating. He limits what they can see of his profile. Maybe they can’t post on his wall or see all of his photo albums. Limiting information seems to be working for him, as it hasn’t caused any drama or weirdness in the dating scene.
In the early days of Foursquare I used to friend anyone in my local community in the sense of making new friends and meeting new people. Then one day while at a local show, I start getting texts from a random phone number telling me how much he likes the venue and how I must like the same music he does if I go to that place. …Awkward! I immediately took my phone number off of my profile.
Someone on Twitter told me that they were broken up with via a Twitter Direct Message! That’s something right out of the Sex and the City episode where Carrie gets broken up with via Post-It note. Or breaking up with someone’s answering machine. Some people are just classless and you’re probably better off without them, but they seem to find new ways to make a bad situation worse using social media.
Another friend brought up the fact that if both parties work in the online space and it could lead to discussions of fame. Whose presence is bigger? How many followers does each have? Are your Klout scores close? If you choose to date another person in your industry, make sure you’re both mature enough to handle healthy competition.
What if you’re married? Another community manager mentioned that it puts unexpected difficulties on her marriage because her husband doesn’t always understand the need to be plugged in and connected 24 hours a day, or why she has to meet with so many people of the opposite sex so often. Knowing when to strike the proper balance in a committed relationship is just as important as anything else.
At the end of the day, your private life is just that – private. It’s up to you to have a personal policy and boundaries set up. Friend someone when you want to let them in, or don’t. If it’s public and you want everyone knowing every intimate detail, make sure you keep in mind the feelings of the person you’re seeing. Don’t put your personal contact information in any online dating profile (unless you’re comfortable with being contacted there), and be aware of the repercussions of your actions.
What about you – do you have any social media best practices?
Jenn Pedde is the community manager for the Masters Degree in Social Work program at the University of Southern California in the Virtual Academic Center, which offers a variety of classes in their mental health concentration. She's the co-founder TheCommunityManager.com, a resource for community managers. Jenn is also an avid traveler and enjoys photography. Follow her on Twitter @JPedde.