Remember blind dates where you had to hold your breath to see if your date was a prince or a goblin? Now you can just "look him up" before the date to decide if you're going to shower and shave your legs or if you're intentionally going to eat a bowl of broccoli and garlic first. If it's common practice for you to Google someone before you go on a date, consider the following.
It is scientifically unsound to Google someone before you go on a date for two very good reasons. First, no scientific experiment would bias a participant before the experiment. (And if you think equating dating to scientific experiments is a stretch, you haven't been dating long.) To glean the best results from any situation, you must remove premature bias from the equation. If you go into a date with a head full of notions based on what you think you know about someone, the date is over before it began. You must date with a clean slate! Second, if you disqualify someone based on what you find on the Internet, you are ignoring one of Mother Nature's coolest gifts -- pheromones. Pheromones are the human equivalent of a dog whistle. We can't hear them, see them or smell them, but they serve as Mother Nature's matchmaker. It's called "chemistry" for a reason. And Google, for all its star power, cannot tell you whether you'll have chemistry with someone.
Who among us wants to be judged for the stupid stuff we did before we were ready to start dating seriously? That time in our lives called the college years can net a lot of embarrassment later. Maybe a friend has posted frat party pictures on Facebook, or maybe when you Google someone's name a minor infraction pops up. For this reason alone, Googling someone before you go on a date may not be the best idea. You need face time with someone to determine whether he was an idiot or he still is an idiot.
Celebrities cry foul on much of what is printed about them, but this could happen to any of us. Maybe we tick someone off either purposefully or accidentally and they see fit to air all the gruesome details in a public forum. Would you really want to dismiss someone on the word of a stranger? Background checks through friends who may know your date are always acceptable because the friends know you, they know your date and you can trust their feedback. But taking the word of someone you've never met shoots "innocent until proven guilty" right in the foot.
Go into the date with an open mind, minus any pre-conceived notions. At some point you are going to want to Google your date to verify what he told you. But get to know him first. Go on at least one date, and try to hold out for two or three. Google is an authority on the mating habits of tree frogs in the Amazon and can help you find Chinese food in your area; Google can never replace Mother Nature, your heart or your brain.
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