Saturday, July 21, 2012

Pre-date online stalking: how far should you go?

A little predate research can go a long wayDoing a DIY background check on your date for the evening is alarmingly easy in the internet age. Even a quick browse of Twitter and Facebook can give you the basic lowdown on what to expect. But can you go further and, more importantly, should you?

To coincide with the release of action-comedy ‘This Means War’ on Blu-ray and DVD, Y! Lifestyle were given a crash course on internet stalking – sorry, researching – by social media strategist Tiffany St James to discover what to really look out for when you’re dating.

Should you research?

A little research about the person you’re meeting up with can be useful, especially if they’ve already given you some information by way of an online dating profile. It gives you the tools to arrive prepared with conversation topics and aware of what you have in common. But don’t go overboard. It can be unnerving if you turn up knowing the minutiae of your date’s life and what they’ve done over the past week, not to mention a conversation killer.

Beyond Twitter and Facebook

You don’t have to be a secret agent to have access to a whole range of investigative tools. Going beyond a Google, Facebook or Twitter search, you can discover where your date likes to eat and drink and even deduce where they live. Other lesser used social media networks include Friends Reunited, Bebo, LinkedIn, Klout, 4Square as well as blogs and tumblrs.

You can also look into land ownership records, marriage registers and housing listings. If you’re dating a potential millionaire, check out if his or her company is registered with Companies House or look up musicians on Myspace, Vimeo or Soundcloud.

How far should you go?

Knowing all this might be a little too much for a first date! Tiffany recommends deciding on a clear objective before you begin researching. Think about where you should draw a line before you start and how comfortable your date will feel when you let them know what you’ve discovered.

A little information will pique your excitement and help you prepare for the date. One useful thing Tiffany recommends is using what’s available online to work out a sense of ‘true character’. Everyone represents themselves as they wish to be seen online and especially in dating profiles, so compare what’s being said about your date with what they’re saying themselves to see how they match up. But remember to leave a little mystery!

If you think you’re a menace on a keyboard when it comes to researching your dates, you ain’t got nothing on spies Chris Pine and Tom Hardy who both fall in love with Reese Witherspoon (who can blame them?) in ‘This Means War’, released on Blu-ray and DVD on 2 July from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

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