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Jewish World ReviewNov. 12, 2002 / 7 Kislev, 5763

Lenore Skenazy

Skenazy
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Consumer Reports


Googling be gone


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | "Strangers in the night/Exchanging E-mails/Wondering at first sight - is he a female?/Googling is so right/For strangers in the night."

No, no - not to worry. Sinatra's song is still sacred. But soon a crooner really should sing the truth about love, 2002: Canoodling is now preceded by Googling.

Googling? Looking someone up on the Internet to see whatever you can find out about him or her. Google.com is the search engine you go to. Then you type in your potential paramour's name to see what comes up, be that pictures, personal profiles - or prior convictions.

Gives "getting to know you" a whole new twist.

"It's just so quick and easy," says Krissy, a twentysomething Manhattan single. "Usually it's people I've already gone on dates with that I Google. I get enough information when I go out in order to do a decent search on them. You get a lot more if you know where they're from or where they went to school."

So far her results have been beyond tame: "I found one guy's Little League picture." But recently she learned how to find out which Web sites her boyfriends visit. Verrrry interesting.

If it sounds like Krissy approaches her dates the way Attorney General Eliot Spitzer approaches Arthur Andersen accountants, you're right. But maybe that makes sense.

"People lie," says Lisa Ronis, a professional matchmaker. Unless you get to know someone through friends, family or work, all you have to go on is what he (or she) reveals in a noisy bar or personal ad. Oh, he loves dancing, moonlight and long walks on the beach?

Did he mention the ax murdering thing? Or his presidency of the John Ashcroft fan club? Or that he enjoys yodeling? No, but a Google search might.

Deborah Knuckey met a seemingly nice guy online and Googled him. Turns out he has his own personal Web site that contains his own personal musings about his own personal wife. Deborah E-mailed back: "Unless your Web site is really out of date, it appears you are married and still hanging out on singles Web sites. Please confirm."

Confirm he did - and continued to request a relationship with Knuckey. She declined.

There are a million stories like this. Charlotte, 28, met a man online who was thirtyish and ready for marriage - to her. One Google later, and she found him on a list of marathon runners, along with his age: 44.

An ardent left-winger Googled her new boyfriend and found he'd worked at the Defense Department. An artist met a photographer, found his Web site and followed its link to another Web site - his wife's. These tales would seem to suggest that, in this era of pickups and personals, Googling is a good thing.

But it's not. While it's fine at ferreting out finks, it's even better at making sure star-crossed lovers never meet. "Getting a whole bunch of facts up front can be a curse and a blessing," says Rowland Miller, co-author of the textbook "Intimate Relationships."

Singles can be stunningly superficial about whom they'll date. Online matchmaking forms let them specify the age, weight and height their dates should be. Now along comes Google, allowing them to glean even more trivial info. Oh, this guy collects G.I. Joes. Out! This one visited lovebunnies.com. Out! This one published a poem about clouds. Gag!

"Pesky facts available too soon might prevent a relationship from ever taking hold," says Miller.

Googling can never take the place of getting to know someone the old-fashioned way - in bed. No, a joke. But truly, coffee and a chat beats a background check every time.

No mouse can predict when two people will click.

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JWR contributor Lenore Skenazy is a columnist for The New York Daily News. Comment by clicking here.

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