I’m a freshman — a stupid, naïve, bright-eyed hopeful freshman at that, with visions of a 4.0 GPA and true love and wild parties dancing in my head.
Not so long ago, I attended FTCAP in anticipation for my coming year at Penn State.
After the exciting event, as a Schreyer Honors student I found an online group for Schreyer Class of 2016 on Facebook.
My first thoughts were, of course, “How pretentious.”
But before I knew it I was perusing the group, friend requesting everyone and their grandmother just as everyone else seemed to be doing, jumping out of my skin at the thought of becoming acquainted with my future classmates, and perhaps even real-life friends.
I stumbled upon a boy with a profile picture I found particularly interesting. He was cute.
Intrigued, doing what girls do, whether they admit it or not, I stalked this cute boy’s profile as best as I could.
I inspected his “Likes”— his musical taste, the TV shows he is entertained by, the YouTube videos he posted. Do I sound like a stalker yet?
If I do, it’s because I am, like so very many of us Facebook users are. At least I can admit it.
I vowed to befriend this boy in real life, even if nothing else came of it, and when orientation came in August, I recognized him instantly.
The only problem was, he was extremely intimidating.
After an awkward exchange of hellos in passing after being in the same “book discussion group,” I was beginning to lose faith in the potential friendship — ahem, relationship — I had dreamed up.
I didn’t think much about it from there on out, until one happy, happy day. I posted a link to the indie band Stars’ new album, The North.
And guess what?
Cute boy “Liked” it.
He liked the very same album I posted.
So in one of the swiftest, gutsiest moves I have ever made, I messaged him, inviting him out with my friends that night, excusing my boldness with the fact that I was just as new here as him and was hoping to meet fresh faces.
Cute boy and I are now dating.
It was love at first profile picture, what can I say?
After this long-winded anecdote, my point is not to demonstrate my own level of creepiness, or brag about my super cool freshman relationship, or even boast that I have “found love in a hopeless place,” as Rihanna might say.
Instead, I will say that the notion of Facebook changing our social interactions is fascinating, and a topic worth far more than the short opinion column I am writing.
The idea of meeting people online has been around for years, with the first official online dating sight surfacing in the nineties, according to Who Invented It.
There are hundreds, thousands maybe, of successful relationship stories, stemming from an exchange on Match.com or eHarmony or perhaps even Christian Mingle. The online dating industry has become quite huge, raking in nearly $2 billion per year these days, according to MSNBC.
But online dating is not something myself, or my peers, are apt to utilize at this point in our lives.
In fact, to most of us, the idea of meeting someone online, sitting behind a computer screen in search of love — or perhaps something else — is off-putting and kind of icky.
Yet, most of my peers have rather active Facebook profiles, and I am willing to attest they partake in a fair amount of “stalking.”
It is unfortunate to consider that instead of going out and finding people the old fashioned way, we find ourselves wasting hours in front of a screen looking at images of other people, images that were probably taken for the purpose of posting them on the internet.
Nevertheless, this is the direction our society is going in, and in my case, I took full advantage of it. The Internet has a powerful way of connecting us in ways that wouldn’t be possible otherwise, and I do have Facebook — and those who I initially deemed “pretentious” for creating a Schreyer group — to thank for the relationship I am now enjoying. You never know when a mere Facebook friend will turn into someone who becomes significant in your life, be it a best friend or a girlfriend or a boyfriend — or an archenemy.
As always, use caution in the decisions you make on the web and the interactions you partake in, but hey, don’t be afraid to do a little friendly “investigating” of your peers now and then.
You never know what could happen. You never know what one little post could end up changing your life.
Caroline Fenlin is a freshman majoring in graphic design and is a Daily Collegian columnist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.