Disclaimer: Some of the links in this column lead to content with adult language.
Thanks to the digital age, nothing is sacred anymore. If you need some proof for this statement, just consider Facebook. The social networking site is a veritable cesspool of vulgar content, unintelligible pseudo English, and TMI. That's not to say the site doesn't have value, because it most certainly does. It's great for reconnecting with old friends, planning gatherings, and sharing amusing media bits from around the Web, among other things.
But as a tool in matters of the heart, Facebook decidedly falls into the gray area between super useful and downright shady. With that in mind, I've put together some tips to navigate the choppy waters of romantic relationships via social networking.
Part I: Finding love
First things first: DO look for love on Facebook. Why not, really? For one thing, it works. I have two close friends who met significant others through the site, and one is now engaged as a result. For many people, it's easier than asking someone out in person, whether for reasons of shyness or propriety. Further, it's not much different than meeting through a dedicated dating site such as Match.com or OKCupid--in fact, some might be even more comfortable admitting to meeting through Facebook since it's not a dedicated dating site.
Of course, making that initial advance is where the challenge lies. If you're already connected to the person, DO consider sending a personal note related to a recent status update or wall post. Once the conversation has gotten started, asking to meet for coffee or a drink shouldn't be awkward. (Remember that engaged friend I mentioned? This is how it happened.)
Also, DO consider checking out your extended network--friends of friends. For the best results, DO ask the mutual friend to do a little cursory investigating on your part to find out if the person is available and might be interested in your romantic overtures. Having a friend hook you up is basically the same no matter how you do it. In fact, getting to know a person a bit through Facebook before meeting them in person may make a face-to-face meeting more comfortable than, say, a group or blind date.
While you're at it, DO reconnect with old high school or college friends on Facebook--I know of yet of another engagement that occurred in this way. Plus, expanding your overall social network with people with whom you're actually acquainted exponentially increases the pool of potential dates from which to choose, because I DON'T recommend contacting complete strangers with messages like "You're hot--wanna go out?" Frankly, that's more than a little creepy. If you absolutely must reach out to someone you have no connection to, DO open with something entertaining but entirely nonsexual, and try to start a conversation around something that is of mutual interest.
Stay tuned next week for parts II & III of Facebooking for love. In the meantime, if you have any success--or horror--stories of your own, I invite you to share them in the comment section.