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We’re talking, of course, about internet stalking, not real life stalking. That’s still illegal, people.
Anyway. Almost everyone has an online footprint these days. A person’s online identity can reveal more about them that may not be covered over the first few dates. Here’s why you should do your own informal investigation:
1. Are they really who they say they are?
Sure, anyone can say they are a Sales Director of a known MNC, but are they really? Most people have a LinkedIn and Facebook account these days. This is perfect for fact checking whether they are who they say they are. If they don’t have either, that’s an interesting observation to keep in mind. No reason to panic (yet), but you may want to bring up the topic of social media platforms and see how they react.
2. Mutual friends will give you the lowdown.
Offline, we naturally feel more comfortable if we get to know someone through our good friends. If they have known him or her for years and can vouch for their character, then at the very least, you know he or she won’t be a con artist.
Similarly, if Facebook shows that you have friends in common, definitely get them to dish out whatever details they can. Even if they aren’t close, you’ll get a sense of the person’s reputation.
3. Find out early if they are complete narcissists/sexists/racists.
He or she may seem like a polite, down-to-earth person on the first date, but who doesn’t try to put on their best behaviour? See if you can find what sort of pictures and comments they leave online, to get some insight into their true personality. If 99% of a person’s Instagram account consists of touched up selfies, or they’ve made a secret career out of posting inflammatory comments on Facebook, you’ve been adequately warned.
4. Uncover more conversation topics.
What a person puts online is a treasure trove of clues into his or her personality, especially with regards to their likes and dislikes. Find similarities that you can subtly bring into future conversations e.g. love for travelling and the outdoors, et cetera. However, the key is to just keep these in mind, and not to overwhelm them to the point of realising you have been stalking them.
5. Look out for the unsaid things.
Observe the things that can be traced to them. Do their friends post feature stories of obsessive hoarders who died alone to their Facebook wall? Or perhaps you find their name mentioned on SPCA’s website as a Board member? Things mentioned about them can be as equally telling as what they mention about themselves.
As much as online dating has become a common way to meet potential partners, it can still get really dodgy sometimes. These are some ways you can try to safeguard yourself from the creeps. Happy internet stalking!
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