Every month, Thomas will be answering your pressing relationship Qs. If you've got one, email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask away!
Hey Thomas . . .
So I recently hooked up with this guy and it was all going smoothly . . . until we became friends on Facebook. Turns out he's pretty weird on social media — he posts lots of questionable statuses, follows heaps of Instagram models and to make things worse, he keeps tagging me in cringeworthy memes!
Basically, I'm attracted to him, but really not attracted to his online alter ego. Am I being fussy? How do I approach this? Help!
Hey there, Stitched-Up On Social Media,
After reading your question I was immediately reminded of a saying my grandma used to use all the time: "You can't judge a book by its cover." She was normally whispering it to herself whenever I went in for a hug. It was weird.
Anyway, while I understand the merit behind that saying — don't be superficial, give everyone a chance, etc. — I'm also a firm believer that you absolutely can judge a bloke by his Facebook.
If you choose to make your cover photo a shirtless snap of #theboys because #rigsontour then you will be judged accordingly.
At the same time, there are plenty of people whose company I enjoy in real life but I despise them online. I've had to hide one of my oldest friends on Facebook because I can't handle another "Guys, if you don't re-post this, Facebook will steal all your info" post.
So with all that in mind, best try and take a level-headed approach to your particular problem. It sounds like there's an obvious vibe when you're face to face, and it's just that he's a bit of a digital douche. In my professional opinion it sounds like you've stumbled upon a social media sheep.
What is a social media sheep?
It's a guy who isn't completely comfortable sharing things on Facebook/Instagram so he just mimics what his mates do in order to not raise any kind of alarm.
This would explain why you get on in person and find him completely unbearable online.
Now let's get specific.
Creeping on the Instagram models is very much in line with the social media sheep diagnosis. Chances are when he signed up to Instagram he binge-followed anyone in a bikini and now his feed is just a roll call of beautiful bloggers spruiking protein smoothies etc.
The questionable statuses are a real cause for concern because nothing crushes chemistry quicker than a lame status. I once spent a solid fortnight daydreaming about a girl from work only to see her post a "I've decided I'm doing a Facebook Friend Cleanse" status. I could never look at her the same way.
But the cringeworthy memes are the most telling behaviour he's displaying. It's like he's trying to reach out to you, but he's not really sure how to do it. Kinda like when you're a baby and you cry because you're hungry but you can't speak yet. That's him, except he's not hungry, he's thirsty. And his version of crying is tagging you in a bunch of "One Does Not Simply" memes, believing that is a surefire way to win your heart.
The good news is I don't think your situation is a lost cause, it's just going to require a little bit of finessing.
Next time you're together, do what most couples do and start scrolling through your feed and talking about people that annoy you.
Once you've really worked yourself up — "Louise . . . SHUT . . . UP . . . No one cares about #RoseSundays" — use that as a jumping off point to bring up how people act online. Ask some hypothetical questions and just let them hang awkwardly in the air. A few suggestions to get you started:
- Don't people realise how they come across? It's embarrassing.
- Imagine if his/her boss saw that?
- Why would you put that on the internet, where things live FOREVER?
If he starts sweating bullets, I reckon your message is getting through. I would also recommend giving him a taste of his own meme-medicine. Really freak him out by taking the Facebook tag to the next level. See below.
Ultimately, the best way to get to the bottom of this is by speaking up and letting this guy know that he's got a real Jekyll and Hyde situation with his social media style.
Admit that you're enjoying hanging out with him, but when you're on the bus home and you see that he's joined the "Blondes With Big Boobs Appreciation" page it totally turns you off.
The smart money says his social media game will fall into line with his IRL persona and you'll be working on your wedding hashtag before you know it!
Peace and happiness,