As we spend more and more of our lives online, inevitably we discover ourselves flirting with people we have never met in real life - you might even call it having a crush.
There’s something about the dynamism of social media that feels both more truthful and more mysterious. You have lots of intimate knowledge of a person but you can’t see them.
When we would eventually meet, sometimes it was pure magic, one of these rare times in a life when everything finally seemed to fit together and I felt I'd met my other half. Other times it was… well, less magic, because the spark in the person didn't match the connection we made online.
Sometimes the other person and I would feel the same way, whether we were overwhelmed or underwhelmed. Even worse than both of us being disappointed was when one of us would be thrilled while the other was not, which would eventually result in hurt feelings on both sides.
The first time I met an online love it was magic, and as a longtime romantic I simply assumed it would feel like that every time. So I was shocked when the second time I met someone I had connected with online, there was no magic, no spark, none of what I was so sure would happen because it had happened once before.
On the bright side, she and I have been good friends ever since. And the few more times I have met someone online and then met in person some time later, the experience has been somewhere in between the first and second times—some spark but not fireworks.
Once I had a crush on a guy. From the internet. And I was secretly watching a YouTube video that he had posted. And my finger slipped and I accidentally clicked "like" or "thumbs up" or whatever.
And this was the first time I realized that YouTube was directly, horrifyingly linked to my Gmail. So there was my face, next to a thumbs up of this video that I was secretly, creepily watching. And I freaked out. And was like "Undo! Undo! Undo!!!
So then I clicked "thumbs down" thinking that would undo it somehow, but no, obviously that just meant that now my face was on the YouTube video next to a thumbs down icon and it was very embarrassing, and then when we met in real life, I pretended to barely know who he was even though obviously I'd watched his video.
I started a new job about a year ago and was surprised to discover that my boss, the editor-in-chief, was a pretty young, kinda hot dude - in a hot dad way. But we never really interact in person since he's not my direct boss.
But in my first week he started following me on Twitter, which I was really flattered by because he only follows a few hundred people on Twitter. Then I wrote something and he tweeted about it, so I faved that.
Then I realized I was favoriting quite a few of his tweets, and then things got weird where I was like faving his tweets on Saturdays, or going back to old tweets and faving those. I think I thought I was being subtle and saying "oh, heyyyyy," except it wasn't subtle at all.
In 2009 I befriended a guy whom one of my other friends had gone out with a few times. Once he accepted my Facebook friend request, I naturally went to look at all of his recent photos. In his photos was another guy that caught my attention, so I went and looked at his profile and lurked behind all of his photos. "What a babe," I thought. I was immediately obsessed.
I decided to take my virtual stalking offline by messaging our mutual friend and not-so-subtly asking for him to hook us up. Go big or go home, right?
To make a long story short, yadda yadda yadda, Billy and I got married in December 2013!
There is always going to be a divide, however, between our public persona(e)—whether presented via Twitter or Facebook—and who we are in the physical realm.
On social media, you get all the fun, interesting parts of someone without having to deal with the things that are difficult or dull about them. They are not presenting to you, for the most part—or at least in any way that actually affects you—their idiosyncrasies, emotional unavailability, or the way they chew with their mouth open.
If you want my advice, don't avoid making online connections—they can be marvelous experiences while they last. But I would recommend trying to meet each other before your feelings become so intense that you'll be seriously heartbroken if that initial meeting doesn't go well.
Think of it as having a crush for a long time: you may idealize someone to such an extent that when you finally get to meet them, you can't help but be disappointed by the real person you actually meet.
flirt /flɜːt/ v撩；调情
creepy /ˈkriːpi/ adj怪异的；离奇的
fave /feɪv/ n特别喜爱的人或事物；（此处是动词）点赞
lurk /lɜːk/ v埋伏；潜伏；（网络上）潜水；隐身（阅读别人的讨论但不参与其中）
idiosyncrasy /ˌɪdiəˈsɪŋkrəsi/ n（个人特有的）习性；特征；癖好
chew /tʃuː/ v咀嚼；嚼碎
idealize /aɪˈdiːəlaɪz/ v将……理想化
来源：Buzzfeed、The Daily Dot、Psychology Today