It’s no secret that people have been using Facebook not only to (re)connect with existing friends, but to make new ones, usually based on mutual acquaintances. Given sensationalist news stories1 about the worst that can happen from Facebook, some are reluctant to friend anyone they don’t know personally, just as they would not immediately share personal feelings with random strangers.
But the Orthodox Jewish social world is driven very much through intermediaries. Upon first meeting someone, it’s normal for people to play “Jewish Geography to see if there are any mutual acquaintances. Additionally, many Jews will infer an individual’s basic character traits based on where a person lives or went to school, fairly or unfairly relying on internal cultural stereotypes. In the realm of Jewish dating, I’d guess that most people are set up either through professional shadchanim or mutual friends, intermediaries who ideally know both individuals personally.
While there are in fact several shidduch groups on Facebook geared specifically towards setting up members, I’m curious how many times people use Facebook to set up two mutual friends, or at least find mutual friends on their own and ask for assistance. For example, at this time I have 1,258 friends (I started on the site back in 2004), and many of those people comment on various posts and links such that we get some great discussions going. Or someone may see that I commented on someone else’s post and will follow the link etc. The point is it’s very easy to peruse someone’s social network, either
stalkery actively or just through normal usage.
So my question is, to what extent are people using FB for online Jewish dating, given that people often put up more current pictures and share more of their personalities than they do on most dating sites? I’d guess the risk of meeting a creep would be just about the same and you’d have the independent verification of a mutual friend.
It seems so obvious I think I’m missing something.
Update: Turns out there’s already a website geared to such things: http://www.thread.com
1. And this is all from the past month.
Are you calling me a stalker? ;-)
I did try to set up someone I knew online (originally from a blog, but then through Facebook) with someone in my community. Unfortunately, it turned out the person in my community was dating someone quietly.
I think it’s just a modern method for the matchmaking friend. I think they would probably have tried to set those two people up, FB or no FB. It just makes it easier and quicker. But I suspect FB is used more for scoping out the suggested person :) I can’t say I haven’t done that!
I happen to think that it is really convenient to be able to look up someone’s Facebook profile, so that you don’t end up going out with someone whom you won’t like. Also, Facebook profiles give a lot more of a sense of who the person is than do the dating websites- you can see status updates, etc., which can give a better sense of someone’s personality, so you have a better idea of with whom someone wants to set you up. It definitely borders on stalking, but if you don’t want to be stalked on Facebook, there are privacy settings.
In my less-frum days, I actually totally used FB as a dating tool. In fact, the best pick-up line I’ve ever gotten was on FB. The guy was working in the town I was in grad-school in and he had gone to the university before, so we had many mutual friends – thus making it not-as-creepy. While we were not destined to be life partners, we had a nice time together while it lasted and it eternally makes for a good story.
(I also have a friend who married a guy she met through myspace, back in the pre-FB days!)
Facebook is a good way to get to know someone whom you think has the potential to be your partner or not. The postings that are in his wall would tell much about the person. Even the pictures that are used and the comments that are posted will give you a lot of information about them. I suggest that we become so vigilant when it comes to dating and getting to know someone especially online.