Amy and I recently talked to a client about conducting a VIP search on his behalf, and after our meeting, he sent us a short follow up email that simply said “I think it bears repeating that I am not interested in meeting anyone who has an embarrassing web presence.” Given that so many of our clients come to us as referrals, we don’t always do extensive web research on the people we meet, but in this case we knew it would be necessary. And this particular client had encountered an “embarrassing web presence” in a date in the past, so we wanted to be exceedingly careful while conducting his search.
While we weren’t shocked or surprised by anything we discovered, the truth is that most of us have a stray picture or article or comment floating around that we’d rather forget or can’t control, and none of us wants to be Googled or judged by a potential date before meeting. The concept of net neutrality in no way keeps the web itself from being a rather ruthless place – and humans are all too inquisitive by nature – so when you do have control of your web presence, you need to do everything you can to keep it clean and respectable. You should keep in mind that even if we introduce you to the best man or woman in the world, it’s all but guaranteed that someone in his or her life will Google you at some point… and you don’t want to be blindsided by the results.
So how much is too much? How do we know when captured moments of our past might be damaging our future? Where’s the line between private and public, and how do we stay on the right side of it?
Beware of Pictures with Girls
This applies to both men and women, actually. If you’re a guy, do NOT have public pictures of yourself surrounded by seemingly single women. You might think that it makes you seem like a stallion to your friends, but it makes you seem like a player to strangers. And that’s really not an impression that you want to make. If you’re a woman of a certain age (basically any age north of 27 or so) avoid posting the sort of pictures you might have taken at a high school formal with the rest of your dance team. Yes, it’s nice to know that you have great legs, but posing sideways in a line of friends with a dropped shoulder while you lift the hem of your dress to show your thigh is not really going to attract the right guys into your life. In fact, if you’re over 40 it’s a really good way to keep them far, far away.
Stop Double Fisting
I don’t care if it’s a bachelor party, a football tailgate, or an opening night at the opera – having two drinks in your hands is having one two many. It might be a great picture of you and your friends, or maybe your abs have never looked so good, or maybe you’ll never again be able to wear that dress, but two drinks exceeds the allowable Linx limit. If you need to provide a backstory to keep a picture from being embarrassing, then you simply need to hide the picture. Your friends might think it’s funny, but your date’s friends will probably not. This also applies to any pictures where you are drunk, vomiting, doing a keg stand, engaging in a chicken fight in a pool with someone of the opposite sex, or are passed out.
Close Your Legs. Seriously.
Again, this applies to both sexes. For some reason, guys seem to love to point at their packages, to grab themselves, to turn a pool noodle into a giant phallus, and to generally call attention to their favorite part of their bodies. It might have been part of a dumb prank or a great vacation, but it’s not smart to make pictures like that available to the general public. It’s always possible that you’re managing a Jon Hamm or Justin Theroux-style situation, in which case that part of your body needs no help drawing attention to itself, but don’t purposely make it the star of any picture. Ladies should remember to be just that – ladies. Unless you’re squatting at the top of KT-22 and this is the only evidence of that accomplishment, or you were an Olympic gymnast, we don’t need to see how flexible you are.
Exes are a big “Oh No!”
So let’s assume you’re quite prim and proper… public drunkenness? Never! Revealing pictures? Absolutely not. Poses that aren’t age appropriate? Not on your life. Believe it or not, you might still be guilty of photographic crimes. At first blush it doesn’t seem like it would be much of an issue, but if you still have lots of public pictures with your ex, it can signal that you’re not over your last relationship (and for someone who doesn’t know you’re single, it can make you look like a cheater). A lot of us don’t even really think about what’s visible on Facebook or Instagram or Tumblr, but if you’re serious about looking for a new relationship, you need to digitally box up your last one – to the best of your ability – and put it out of sight.
You can’t control what conclusions someone else might draw from pictures of you, but you can try to control which pictures they can see. So if you’re trying to move forward with your life, make sure you aren’t being handicapped by your past… or your friends, for that matter. Take the extra step of doing a “photos of…” search on yourself on Facebook, and request that your friends hide anything that might be unflattering. Getting into a great relationship really is a team effort; we know that better than most. So make sure that your friends and family are doing their part to help you score the guy or girl of your dreams.
In the meantime, be respectful of your potential Linx matches and KEEP GOOGLE OUT OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP- no offense Larry and Sergey ;). When it comes to digging up dirt on a harmless stranger, it’s important to follow the Golden Rule; do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.