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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Consider 'Googling' potential dates the new form of flattery

 •  Previous 'About Men/Women'

By Tanya Bricking
Advertiser Staff Writer

A journalist friend of mine just e-mailed me to make sure I checked out the comics page because there was a reference to women "Googling."

She knows Googling is one of my favorite pastimes. It is a bit of technology that has made sleuthing so much more civilized.

Among my group of girlfriends, no potential date is safe from the Google.com search engine. We Google everyone and share the details. Especially the photos, even if we wish we hadn't stumbled upon them. (Your high school reunion snapshots? Yeah, I saw those.)

With our dates, we try not to call attention to our Web investigations. No need to mention your chat-room posting or how much we know about you before it comes up in conversation. We don't want to be branded e-stalkers.

The best Googlers are discreet about their findings. But in the private world of girl talk, no secret is safe.

Sometimes Googling barely manages to confirm someone's existence. Other times, it's pay dirt. Like the time my friend found her date's picture as a model in a local company's advertisement. That was a good one.

There are pitfalls, such as the issue of same name/wrong person. It makes unusual names all that much more appealing.

And Web photos can be deceiving. I once found a blind date's Web site before our date, but his eyebrow ring wasn't clearly visible in his photo, so that was a surprise.

I have a theory that girls Google guys, and guys Google themselves (ego-Googling).

It doesn't hurt to find out what's out there about yourself, but it's more fun to cyber-snoop on other people.

The findings can be a measure of how far you've come ("I keep tabs on my psycho ex-boyfriend," one of my friends said) to where you might be (home addresses pop up in the strangest places).

A guy friend and I have an ethical disagreement about how much background checking on potential loves is too much.

As a journalist, I've long held that all public records are fair game. I once found out the hard way that a guy I was dating wasn't quite divorced yet.

My guy friend says women should snoop only as much as they would feel comfortable having men check up on them.

But he agrees that Googling is within the boundaries of not-too-creepy.

This isn't reading anybody's diary. This is just researching what's out there. And there's no harm in that, unless you find more than you bargained for.

To say, "I Googled you" shouldn't be cause for alarm. It's the new form of flattery.

And there is a way of enacting revenge if you don't like being the subject of a Google search. It's called counter-Googling.

Reach Tanya Bricking at tbricking@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8026.