I’m sure that when I accepted Eli’s friend request, the first thing he did was scroll through my profile, flip through my pictures, and check out my likes. You better believe that’s what I did to him.
Just from looking at his Facebook wall, I found out that Eli has a July birthday, plays football, and likes Breaking Bad. From his photos I could see that he went to some kind of camp this summer, he has a tattoo on his shoulder, and he used to wear glasses.
But even though I’m as guilty of profile stalking as the next person, I have a problem with it partially because it shortcuts the whole getting-to-know-you process, but mostly because a person’s Facebook profile just isn’t an accurate representation of who a person is. I mean, sure Eli has a tattoo, but it wasn’t until many late night conversations that I found out that the tattoo was in memory of his father, who died two years ago from cancer. His profile didn’t show that his brothers are the two most important people in his life. It couldn’t possibly show how badly he wants to leave his little farm town, or how much he will miss his family. It didn’t show that he really likes badminton, even though he knows it’s a little nerdy.
I guess my point is that a Facebook profile is not the online representation of a person. It’s just fragments of a life. There’s no shortcut to getting to know a person. Relationships take time, and they take work. I honestly think that everyone’s relationships would be better if they spent less time online and more time just talking.