Doors Wide Shut: Balancing Internet Privacy and Online Dating

By Kristin Manganello, Copy Cutie

Google’s new policy change has recently shed light on the contradictory feelings people have about online privacy. To some, this suggests the beginning of an Orwellian nightmare, where the Internet knows more about you than you know about yourself.

The truth is Big Brother has a lot of personal information on you already. Digital users straddle a fine line when it comes to privacy, with one foot firmly planted in the direction of the future while the other still lingers among the values of the past. People want to be anonymous, but they also want the world to know who they are and what they’re about. Social media adds fuel to the fire, giving individuals countless ways to represent and display themselves. Everyone lives in the glass house that Twitter and Facebook built — and some people are more naked than they realize.

Online daters in particular muddle through an especially challenging quagmire when it comes to privacy. The nature of dating via the interwebs encourages you to be open about your personal life and desires. Without simple forthrightness and accessibility, it’s hard to find someone you’re compatible with. At the same time, there’s probably information you want to keep to yourself before getting to know a potential romantic partner. It’s not that you want to hide these very personal details forever; you just don’t want for someone to learn about them in your ‘About Me’ section. But if you’ve gone and posted that information everywhere else on the world wide web, then it kind of defeats the purpose of being private.

Your online dating identity doesn’t just stop at your profile. Every byte and pixel of information posted has the potential to be found by your matches. With that said, there shouldn’t be a huge discrepancy between your identity on a dating site and the rest of your virtual persona. If your newest fling Googles your social media activity and sees that you’re not the person you present yourself to be, it can raise a major red flag.

Even if you consider your life an open book, there’s still the TMI issue. In a world where tabloids and reality TV are the duke and duchess of the entertainment realm, many people don’t bat an eye about oversharing themselves. Every day, people tune in to see what’s going on in the lives of total strangers. As each detail is made public, life imitates art and people sometimes adopt total transparency with their own lives without considering the full spectrum of consequences. Is it wise to post a melodramatic public blog post every time you have a bad day? Should you share embarrassing or criminal confessions on Facebook? Does your daily onslaught of hypersexual Tweets represent the real you? How you use privacy to shape your online identity all depends on the answers to questions like these. Before being honest with potential lovers, you have to be honest with yourself.

And in spite of it being arguably the greatest invention of the modern day, the Internet isn’t an inherently safe place for your anonymity. Share yourself with caution — everywhere. Big Brother may always be watching, but you have the ability to control what he sees.

Agree or disagree — tell us what you think about privacy and online dating in a comment below!