Has Facebook Eliminated The First Date?

12/13/13 12:06AM EST

Has Facebook Eliminated The First Date Has Facebook Eliminated The First Date?

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When it comes to first date topics of conversation, there are a number of classics that come to mind. They tend to cover the basics, such as, “Where did you grow up/go to school?” “Do you have any siblings?” “What’s your favorite kind of music?” Etc., etc., the list goes on. You know, simple “getting to know you” questions.

But wait a minute. We live in a world where all of this knowledge can be found in a single, online location: Facebook. It creates a literal timeline of your experiences, including where you grew up (if you choose to list such information), where you went to school (most likely), and you’ve probably “liked” enough items to give a potential date a sense of what you are and aren’t into. With all of this information readily available, we can skip over that awkward, napkin-twiddling first date and move immediately onto the second, where we know each other a little bit better and make conversation that, well, flows. Right?

I, for one, am not convinced. First of all, Facebook can never replace the sense (or lack thereof) of instant physical attraction. It’s either there, or it isn’t, and no matter how many pictures you view of your date standing in a group of similarly dressed people sporting a goofy smile and holding a red, plastic solo cup, you’re going to have to see him/her in person in order to tell if you’re feeling that spark.

As for uncovering a date’s sordid past, Facebook has no monopoly on that information. Before Facebook, there was, believe it or not, another source from which you could investigate the background of that friend of a friend who asked you out last Saturday. Ask the mutual friend, and they will probably be able to tell you a lot of what you can glean from a Facebook profile…and more. Will Facebook tell you if this guy was a total dick to his last girlfriend post-breakup? Not unless he started leaving snide comments about her relationship status afterwards, but in that case, this immature dude is not a guy you want to sit through dinner or some drinks with, anyway. Also, you can always untag yourself in the picture that reveals how much acne you had as a teenager, but a high school friend will still be able to out you for your pimply past.

Of course, there can be exceptions. If you choose to, you can use Facebook like any online dating tool, sending flirty messages to your potential date before you ever take your conversations out of the virtual world and into a bar (or restaurant, if you’re not a drinker/want to make a slightly classier impression). After realizing, via Facebook, that a guy she vaguely knew through an old job had the same all-time favorite song as she did, my friend fell into certain and deep attraction with him. After liking the telling comment, she bantered back and forth with the guy on Facebook for a couple of weeks (due to busy schedules they had a hard time planning on a time to meet right away), so that when they did come face to face, they felt like old friends. That was two years ago. Now, they’re planning their wedding. And the song was “You Sexy Thing,” by Hot Chocolate—not kidding—which will surely play a big part in the reception.

The opposite of this scenario is also a possibility. Facebook can set you back pre-first date, if given misleading information from a person’s profile. I once went out with a guy my friend introduced me to over Facebook (note: this is the only time I have ever done this, and I will never do it again). The guy’s profile painted the picture of a charming, self-assured guy, with really great hair and a body that begged for the summertime so it could walk around shirtless. He listed the location of where he went to college (without the name of an actual school, which I should have caught onto, but thought nothing of) and had a lot of interests that made him seem intelligent.

Our first (and only) date was a disaster. He was almost completely bald and at least ten years older than his most recent Facebook picture. Luckily, we met in the winter, and I did not have to stare at a gut that would have hung far below the waistband of any bathing suit. Before I start to sound too shallow, I’ll have you know that this guy seemed like he’d never opened to the first page of a book that exceeded twenty pages, and he hadn’t listed the name of a college because he never attended one for more than a couple semesters, having gotten kicked out from multiple institutions for offenses ranging from class skipping to drug dealing. Needless to say, he was unemployed, and he wasn’t looking.

So where does the information we learn about someone from Facebook fall into the traditional dating structure? It’s just another way to deceive or be straightforward with a person you want to be more than friends with, and whether you do this on the first date or in the Facebook-stalking stages of courtship only matters insofar as what you lie (or choose to be honest) about.