A friend of mine has zero social media presence. Nothing. No Twitter, no Facebook, no Instagram, no Snapchat. For a reason that he has yet to convincingly articulate to any of his friends, he has managed to completely eschew an Internet presence in the year 2016. Incredible. Whether or not you find that admirable or stupid (I’ll take the 5th on my personal opinion), it’s always an obstacle when he starts dating a new girl; or at least, it’s a conversation. Let’s face it, at this point, social media—whether you’re stalking or connecting—is a requisite to getting to know someone for most of us. While my friend has to convince most girls that he isn’t secretly married, isn’t a serial killer, or on the run from the government, which isn’t a great starting point, you are probably facing your some of your own issues in trying to be cool online.
Rule number 1: keep it low key. You can look great on social media just as easily as you can look like a creeper, and I have more than my fair share of girlfriends who have been overloaded when a new guy likes every single photo on Instagram, past and present. Every-single-photo. Don’t do that. That’s weird; it’s too much. Plus, remember that every time you like a photo or a Tweet or comment on a status update, she is probably getting an alert on her phone. Combine that with text messages and phone calls, and it’s a lot of you comin’ in hot and heavy. Half of early dating is striking the right balance between space and attention, and social media can easily tip the scales.
But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start with the initial connection. You should really only hit the add button that you know or have gone out with at least once. In other words, following and friending isn’t a replacement for phoning. So, when it’s last call, don’t ask for a girl’s handle instead of her phone number. If James Franco can’t pull that off, neither can you. The first connection with a new girl should always be direct, and social media is a very indirect way of communicating. However, I think that if you are trying to connect with a mutual friend, like someone that you met at a friend’s party, then going through social media is a great option. You already have common ground, and, really, that’s exactly what social media is for. Plus, asking out a mutual friend can be very awkward, so taking it slow is totally fine.
Of course, you need to actually know the girl. If you merely saw a her at a party and then found her tagged in a photo the next day, you’re not even close. It’s the same as asking a girl for her number at a bar. You wouldn’t simply walk up and say, “Can I have your phone number,” without introducing yourself, dropping a few funny pop culture references, or, at the very least, a compliment. If you did, you’re probably not walking away with her number (and are possibly wet from getting a drink thrown in your face). Adding a girl through a tagged photo or random stalking session definitely puts you in creeper territory. Once you arrive to that destination, there is no exit.
Don’t misunderstand me though, I’m not encouraging you to adopt the same anti-social media stance as my aforementioned friend. What I’m saying is, the right strategy is key, and again, back to rule number 1, be cool. Of course, all of this will take an immense amount of self-control. You’ll want to do all the standard vetting that one does in a new relationship: go through old posts, investigate past relationships, scour tagged photos; all of the basics. I say go for it; dive in. But, stalk with care. Liking an old Instagram photo, as we all know, is basically like building a massive roadside billboard that has “CREEP” in huge letters.
Once you find your social media groove, remember that this isn’t a total replacement for direct communication. Sure, snapping back and forth on the reg is definitely part of it, but personal texts or, even getting super crazy and calling to set up a date is encouraged. Once you’re there though, it’s cone of silence time, liking or commenting was enough. You’re in the real world now. Live in it.