By Chiara Atik for HowAboutWe.com
If you're dating in 2011 (and, if not, can we borrow your time machine?), there's a good chance you Google your date before meeting him or her. Even if you don't, you should operate under the assumption that they will Google you. So, when's the last time you Googled yourself?
There are people who Google themselves with the same regularity that they brush their teeth, or check their email. Even if you aren't this self-obsessed, it's a good idea to Google yourself every once and a while, just to know what a potential date will see about you before ever meeting you.
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Some things to look for:
1. Do You Share Names With A Mass Murderer/Rapist/Beauty Queen/Embezzler?
Of course you didn't commit fraud in 2006, robbing three orphanages of their funds. But if your date knows nothing about you other than your name, you might want to clear up any possible misconceptions.
2. Did You Ever Have A LiveJournal/MySpace/Xanga That You've Since Forgotten About?
Trust me, you do not want your date's first impression of you to be the emo song lyrics you posted in 10th grade.
3. Can He/She See Your Facebook?
If your Facebook Privacy settings are pretty loose, your date might be able to access your wall and flip through your pictures before even meeting you. Try to look at them through the eyes of someone who's never met you, and if there's anything you don't want him or her to see, tighten your settings.
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4. Has Anyone Written Anything About You?
I have a friend who was googling herself at work with her coworkers, just for fun, and was shocked when someone's twitter feed came up as a result. He was a vague acquaintance, and said something pretty disparaging using her full name. She immediately emailed him, and he (mortified) took it down. It had never occurred to him that she would ever read it.
Hopefully no one has ever written anything negative about you, but people do feel somewhat freer to say things on the internet than they otherwise would. Better to find it yourself and take care of it before anyone else sees it.
5. Is There Anything That Actually Needs Explaining?
Sometimes, a Google Search can make it easy for your date (aka a perfect stranger) to read about the less savory things that may have happened to you in your life. If you've ever been arrested, had any sort of picture leaked, expelled, or involved in some sort of scandal or gossip, there's a good chance it will show up on Google.
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If you have anything on your Google results that actually do need explaining, best to bring it up as soon as possible. Be light-hearted about it, but matter of fact: your date will appreciate your honesty, and you'll spare them the shock of finding out later.
How it works: 1) Invent fun dates. 2) Ask people out. 3) Do something awesome, together.