In the age of digital dating your online persona can make or break you. With as much as 70 percent of gay couples now meeting online, it's difficult to argue the importance of your online persona. Mountains of revealing personal information is available to any potential love interest with a just few simple keystrokes. This information can score you extra points, give you a handicap, or literally kill any chance you have with someone before you even get to meet each other.
Have you Google searched yourself lately? What's on the first few pages? What story does it tell? Well, would you date you if you based your decision off this info alone? Although you may be old fashioned and think it's creepy to Google someone before meeting them, I assure you the masses are doing it and the younger generations don't think twice about it. As an online dating expert and co-founder of onegoodlove.com (a relationship-focused dating site), if you're actively dating I can virtually guarantee you someone will be doing a search on you soon. Whether you're a technological pro or dinosaur, there are some critical questions you should consider if you're single and searching:
What information do you share in online dating profiles?
I love online dating (obviously) and recommend all singles in search of love (straight, gay, lesbian, or otherwise) use it while looking for a partner. However, you should always consider how much information you want to share. Most dating sites allow you to share minimal personal info, while others encourage you to share everything including your social media profiles. The amount of info you share is up to you, but you do need to remember that if you give your full name or link to anything that contains personally identifiable information, you've just opened the door for anyone to peak in.
What are you posting on Facebook and other social media accounts?
Facebook can be a great tool for singles to find interesting people connected to their own friends (usually a bonus). Of all social networks, Facebook may be the most revealing of people. You see who their friends are, what they are interested in, what they talk about, if they are intelligent, educated, or self-absorbed; you see it all.
Is that a good thing? It is if you're honest and considerate of what you post. I give tons of dating advice regarding this topic, but if I had to choose one grossly common game-killer I hear the most complaints about, it would be the infamous daily sexy selfie. If you're single and taking frequent gratuitous selfies, please stop. It's not sending the message you think it is.
What search results come up when you Google yourself?
Most people that aren't famous (or infamous) probably don't have much come up in their own search results. That alone isn't a bad thing. It's also not a good thing as far as online persona points are concerned. There are several easy things you can do to score some points here, including creating a basic profile on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Pinterest to reveal some of your interests or hobbies. You could even get fancy and blog about things you love. Common interests are conversation starters, which can lead to success in the game. If the biggest mistake of your life is the first thing that comes when your name is searched, you may need to seek professional advice to see if the situation can be remedied.
Should you have social media accounts?
Yes, you should. If you refrain from reckless posting it can be a great tool that helps cast a wider net in your search. I have too many fabulous, amazing clients and friends that won't create social media accounts due to fear of their personal lives being all over the internet or that replying to friends will consume them. It isn't groundbreaking to suggest that you can only post what you want public, and only reply to whom you want when you have time.
Is my online persona really that important?
It's only as important as finding a partner is to you. My suggestion is to treat dating like a game; a game you really want to win. Your online persona can be your teammate and with a little effort can score you some bonus points instead of killing your game. Taking anything too seriously in the game of dating can be counterproductive and lead to disappointment. Not taking it serious enough can lead to never finding someone. Finding a healthy balance is the key to success. Regardless, it's a worthwhile game to play and is definitely worth the risk. Game on!