This headline might sound like the subject line of a crass spam email—but wait! You actually can use Facebook and Twitter as tools to get a date. No, really—shut up, we're serious here! Just play it cool.
Think about it this way: almost everyone you actually know, along with everyone you pretend to know, is connected to you on Facebook and Twitter. They use these things to divulge personal information about themselves at an alarming rate and with an alarming degree of intimacy. This might sound creepy at first blush—but it doesn't have to be!—you can use this stuff to help prep for pursuit. Don't think of it as stalking—think of it as intel.
Take information from Facebook...
Zuck's human catalog is the ultimate love filter. You can use it to find out a tremendous amount about the object of your fancy without having to noodle it out of them with interview-like questions. You know, getting to know someone is so low-tech, and if you hit Facebook first, you'll get a jumpstart to the good stuff.
- Politics: even if someone doesn't post their political views outright, you might be able to grok a potential ideological incompatibility based on links (and responses to the links of others). Sometimes opposites really repulse.
- Likes: Most people betray something on Facebook that you'll want to know before asking them out. Whether it's where they work, something annoying them lately, a recent article they've enjoyed—pick it out and take note. The minutiae we casually toss up on Facebook is exactly the kind of first date fodder mush you can use to your advantage. Hey, do you want to go to the ________________ on Thursday? Hint: you saw her/him post about _____________ the week before. Shhh!
- Dislikes: Ditto the stuff you shouldn't mention. By scanning someone's profile, you might be able to avoid all sorts of landmines: exes, food allergies, etc.
- Photos: If it's someone you haven't seen in some time and are looking to reconnect with for smoochy reasons, it's wise to view some more contemporary photos. Nobody likes a beer gut.
- Relationship status: Like political views, even if this isn't Facebook official, you can probably gather the clues you need to determine whether or not your e-crush is involved. Look for photos of them hugging, kissing, or taking part in a marriage ceremony with someone else.
...because that's OK now.
None of this is weird. It's been years since knowing something about someone without them directly telling you is a weird thing. Whether or not you've acknowledged it, Facebook is an acceptable surrogate for face to face exchange. So if you wish someone you don't know a happy birthday because you saw it on Facebook, or ask someone you barely know how their vacation was, this isn't ominous in any way—you're just reporting facts that are now wrapped into the web's public social domain.
If you start contact with a desirable pal and tap your Facebook knowledge, you might get called out—Oh, how'd you know that? "Oh, just saw something about it on Facebook" won't make anyone bat an eye.
User Manual is Gizmodo's guide to etiquette. It appears as if by magic every Friday.