by Jeannie Greeley
| April 05, 2012
Sex appeal has a lot to do with first impressions. And in the era of Google stalking, that means many people have turned perfecting their online presence into a part-time job.
I don’t know how you people do it. It takes a lot of work to cultivate allure through social media. You’ve got to meticulously maintain your Facebook profile, tidy up your tweets, finesse your Foursquare to achieve macho mayoral status, and seduce listeners with your Spotify stream. Still, I have friends who execute their social-media sexiness with unbelievable savvy. Every photo is of celebrity stature, and you’d think they hadn’t worn the same outfit twice since Mark Zuckerberg was in utero. If an unflattering photo is somehow tagged, they strike like the CIA, and it vanishes.
Me? I gave up trying to make my social media sexy after a friend tagged a photo of me wearing pink sweatpants and a crotch cam while doing a headstand. This came shortly after the photo of me in a bikini with birthday-party hats on my boobs, which preceded the photo of me leaping in a leotard. Basically, I have the online sex appeal of Rodney Dangerfield.
So at this hyper-cyber stage of existence, I’m thrilled to be in a long-term relationship. I can’t fathom having to keep my social media spotless and sexy for the lurking eyes of would-be mates. Even a passing glance at a person’s page allows you to make snap judgments that could sully a potential “soul mate” in seconds. Say you’re interested in a guy; then you click on his “Bro Time!” album and see the ignorant slob clutching a Big Mac in one hand and making a rock salute with the other. Voila! He’s a douche! Future relationship heartache saved! Right?
I sometimes wonder what our sex icons of yesteryear would seem like if judged by today’s social-media standards. Perhaps we’d all loathe Marilyn Monroe if her childish and misspelled diary entries had come in the form of grammatically incorrect status updates. Or maybe James Dean would have lost his appeal had he taken to tweeting “Broccoli . . . yummmmm!” In many ways, it was what we didn’t know about them that intrigued us.
Those social-media mavens who work so hard to curate online sex appeal have polished themselves into personas rather than people — seemingly inviting intimacy while actually eschewing it. Personally, I miss the days when we didn’t have such “insight” to inform our dating decisions — the days when intrigue came more from genuine interest than from skewed Internet self-portraits.
Years ago, when I tried cyber-stalking my now-girlfriend, she proved to have an airtight online existence. That only heightened my sense of intrigue. In fact, the only telling things I could find about her were an impressive Goodreads profile and this quote from a 2004 article in the New York Times about the advent of Facebook: “It’s like a way to sort of interact with people without really interacting with them.”
Fortunately for me, she chose to really interact with me rather than not really interact with me through social media. Had she done the latter, my blemished cyber record could have halted all forward progress. Thankfully, she got the chance to find me sexy before finding evidence to the contrary immortalized on the pages of Facebook.
Jeannie Greeley is #onehotmess of a @Facebookfreak. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, not at her savvier Gmail address.