I’ve said it before – the internet is a wonderful place. It has enabled me to connect with people all over the world and share my thoughts, and is the reason I have the job I do (one I love, by the way).
But the internet is merely a tool. As with other tools, it can be used for good or evil. Most usage falls somewhere in between, of course, and much depends on context. I was wondering about all this recently when I took a peek at the statistics for this very blog. I noticed that from the end of October onwards I saw a fairly decent spike – not astronomical, but a spike nevertheless.
While this coincided with me writing a lot more than I had been for several weeks, something piqued my curiosity so I dug a little deeper and looked through to where people were coming from. Along with the usual sources was a brand new one; Instagram.
Curioser and curioser. I have an Instagram account, but to be honest I’ve not really been much of a power user. I add the odd arty shot, but overall I tend to share my photos via Facebook rather than Instagram. Why, all of a sudden, were more people looking at Instagram and why would that result in a spike in blog traffic?
I remembered that at the end of October I added the URL for this blog to my Instagram feed. Then I realised that I also have my Instagram account linked to my online dating profiles. It all started to make sense.
The only explanation that I can work out is that people were viewing my online dating profiles and doing a little digging. They will have looked at my photos, read my bio and taken a peek at my Instagram feed. And as of October one of the first things they will have seen will have been the URL to these pages.
Interesting. I’d noted that the views-per-visitor ratio had gone up significantly – for those not savvy with blogging this basically tells me roughly how many posts people were reading every time they visited. This number had gone up to six or seven some days, meaning most visitors were reading multiple posts rather than just the latest one.
I was being stalked.
This isn’t the first time this had happened to me, of course. One of my earliest dates, Stalky McStalkface, had told me of her digital sleuthing powers on our sixth or seventh date, and I’d kind of accepted that some women would do it. But the numbers involved now were more than “some” women – it was a lot more than I expected. I’m in no way implying I’m any form of Justin Bieber, but it was strange to see the depths to which some potential dates would investigate me before ever meeting me.
As of the date this post was published, I’ve never once cyber-stalked a date before meeting them in person. I work in the tech world so would be fairly confident of my skills, but I’ve simply never done it. I thought it was a fun thing that some people did, but now I’m wondering if I’m horribly behind the times and it’s rare not to do it.
I’m fairly certain it’s contributed to my less than stellar matching ratio. Besides all of the other reasons why someone wouldn’t match with me, knowing that I have four kids and that I am writing about dating might well be enough to put even the most interested person off from giving me even the opportunity of a first date. Whilst those who don’t want to take on four kids would always, sooner or later, turn me down, it’s a real shame to see that potentially others are not interested because of the words I’m writing.
It reminds me of one person I dated in the autumn. Things were going well, but then she told me she had a confession. Despite me fearing the worst, it turned out simply that her friends had taken it upon themselves to research me based on what she had told them about me. It wasn’t too long before they’d found this site and had read near enough every post. They tortured her for days about knowing things about me that she didn’t; she adamantly refused to interrogate them, believing that we would get to know each other organically.
I was honest. I answered questions when asked, though didn’t try to overshare. But I do wonder whether she listened to her friends’ teasings and asked questions internally. Some of her friends were very pro-me, while others were a little more wary based on my long relationship and their belief that I couldn’t possibly be ready to move on.
Is this normal? Do all women stalk their dates before, during and/or after their dates? Do all friends do their own sleuthing as well? Should I be doing likewise? What might I be able to find out that I couldn’t ask in person?
That being said, of course there are things that can be discovered. One friend’s friend did her own digging pre-date and discovered that the hitherto nice guy she’d been planning on meeting up with had actually recently been released from prison after stabbing a woman he was dating. Needless to say, she cancelled the date and reported him, but had she not dug a little then she’d never have found the newspaper reports and true story.
For now, at least, I’m going to retain the Instagram link. I’m hoping that nothing I’m sharing here is totally crazy nor worth totally avoiding me for, and perhaps it might allow some potential dates to know me a little better in advance. I’m not telling tales, I’m not revealing details or personal information, nor am I taking the piss. I’m simply being the open book I’ve always been and looking for someone who’s interested in turning the page and starting to write the next chapter with me.
So stalk away, people; just know that I’m looking for a reason to stop dating once and for all. As fun as it is, love is better.