Should You Follow Somebody You Date On Twitter?

What are the rules for polite, non-creepy sleuthing? (Hint: Don’t do it.) Plus, how much political stuff you’re allowed to blast on Facebook and Twitter. posted on

If I have ONE piece of information about someone, like an email or a phone number or something, what are the SLEUTHING rules? I went on a date with someone and we have each other’s numbers, but since I know her full name, is it cool to just start following her on Twitter, for example?

Oh my god. Eyes widen. One eye blinks, then the other eye blinks. Eyes open again, then close. You see that the letters “WTF” are written on each eyelid. Eyes pop out of head, run up the forehead and onto the top of head, and jump off. Eyes land in sink full of water and swim in circles, because there is nowhere else to go, really.

I am not sure why but this has NEVER occurred to me before. I guess it’s weird to be afraid of someone you have a crush on/went on a date with/hooked up with following you on Twitter when you generally WANT people to follow you on Twitter, but it’s just so scary! I’m fine with complete and total strangers knowing what I think about on an hourly basis, but people I KNOW??

Puts eyeballs back in and gives you a look like, “Giiiirl, are you serious?” OK, I think this is the rationale: dating a follower/someone you follow AFTER following him/her for some time is the Twitter equivalent of falling in love with a friend. (Sort of. It’s Twitter, everyone’s in love with everyone on Twitter. Or I am, anyway? Ah.) Reverse that order, and you could get into TMI territory pretty quickly. For strangers with whom you may want to make out, information is best released in small segments in person, whenever possible.

Here is the rule: don’t add a date/hook-up on Facebook, follow him/her on Twitter, or use any methods of communication you were not expressly given until you’re both agreed that you are “dating.” That means there has to have been a discussion, and both of you think there is at least somewhat of a future for you two. Otherwise, you’re just setting yourself up for too much misinterpretation, a really uncomfortable click on “Unfollow,” and one more useless goddamn Facebook friend.

How much consideration should I have for constantly blasting political stuff from my Facebook/Twitter? And what about commenting on other people’s stuff?

What is Facebook if not a virtual soapbox? All you do on it is use your platform to call everyone’s attention to your pictures, your dumb status updates, your thoughts about an article on Mitt Romney, and, if you are horrible, the ever-evolving stages of your relationships. (“Wendy Andrews: is so fed up with players”… 23 minutes later … “Wendy Andrews: just hangin with my man. ;)” … a day later … “Wendy Andrews: [vengeful yet triumphant Katy Perry lyrics].”) There is nothing (much) else to do BESIDES talk about whatever you want to talk about. You’re allowed to blast political news and opinions from your own Facebook however much you want.

Just remember, though, that you are probably making at least a few friends unsubscribe from you, and you might be broadcasting into an empty room. Related: does Facebook really understand what is and is not “Only Important”? I don’t know that it does.

As far as commenting on other people’s posts goes, you’re playing one of the least fun games there is. Firstly, you’re never going to stop getting notifications. Secondly, if you’re arguing with the poster, you’re going to just keep getting madder and putting your face closer to the screen and sooner or later your laptop will close on your head and swallow you into the internet. (RIP Nathan! Just kidding. He is dead though. Haha, no.) Thirdly, if you’re agreeing with the poster, see “firstly.” Especially with friends who post tons of polarizing political stuff, it’s often more productive for you to unsubscribe than to get involved. Wait a second … everybody unsubscribe from everybody. All any of us really want is a newsfeed full of ourselves, anyway. Be honest.

I saw a friend of a friend on OKCupid and I’m kind of interested in her. Should I contact her through the site as normal, or should I go through our shared friend, or some other social medium? It might be more awkward if she turns me down through OKC, maybe??

You know, one of the things I love about doing this column is that so many of the questions boil down to the following cry: I like someone, help. Even though this is a technology blog! Even when you think you’re asking me about Netflix or G-chat or leaving your computer with a stranger, you’re really asking: but what about kissing, though? What about kissing.

OK, so: the important thing to remember is that nobody should feel awkward or embarrassed in this scenario or any (most?) of its potential outcomes. Like, you’re never going to actually live by that or overcome it in any way, but just REMEMBER it. Know that it’s out there, true and vaguely familiar. If you get turned down, you get turned down. No single delivery method of rejection is going to feel better than another. (UNLESS you ask out the Publishers Clearing House prize money guy right before he hands you a large check, I guess?)

I do think, though, that it’s better to go through your friend in some way, if you can. If your mutual friend is a good one, you can drop hints and try to get some group thing scheduled, just so you can meet this woman in a semi-natural state and get all that good intangible attraction information up front. For a lot of people, getting an OKC message from someone they know is going to provoke this knee-jerk reaction of “Why am I LIVING,” and generally you want to avoid that as much as possible in dating. Try going through the friend! If it doesn’t work, just send her a message. Oh well. Nobody feel awkward. Stop throwing up!

FWD: Halp! is a weekly advice column on how to behave like a person when using technology. Would you like said advice? Email your questions to Katie.

Katie Heaney is a writer and volunteer text message analyst living in Minneapolis. She thinks you should have good manners, even on the internet.

Illustration by Cara Vandermey

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