Google searching: An alternative to Missed Connections

Let’s say you see an attractive lady or gent at a pub on the weekend. Perhaps you even have a conversation with them. But for whatever reason, either you or the other person takes off before you can establish that you’re interested, and exchange contact info.

What would *you* do in that circumstance?

I’ve been focusing on Missed Connections posts as a response to this sort of situation. But, of course, an individual has other options, too:

  1. Forget about them and move on.
  2. Ask around about the person through friends (this works best in the context of someone’s party, rather than a public setting).
  3. Search for them on Google …??

Through a strange mix-up, I was recently the unintentional recipient of a message based on this sort of situation. Through the wonders of Google searching, the follow message landed in my inbox this weekend:

Hi ****; 

It’s ******, <occupation>, we met briefly @ ************* on Fri. night before I had to run. So briefly I forgot to ask for your number, but luckily not so that I remembered your name & profession. So googling “**** <her occupation> <city>” led to this email address.

Anyways if you’d like to get together sometime, maybe pizza & not pop? Feel free to email/text/shout.

Cheers, ******.

****** *. **********
### ### #### cell

It just so happens that I am friends with the intended recipient of this message (she gave me permission to post the text of the email without names). She seemed a little weirded out that this incident, and wrote to me, “i guess googling strangers is considered the norm and is not creepy anymore? erm. i must be behind the times.”

The odds of someone reading a Missed Connection about themselves would seem to be quite low. Searching for someone’s email online may be more direct, but is it too invasive? Or, perhaps it’s an ingenious tactic, and becoming acceptable in an age when everyone has at least some online presence. I can’t decide.

So, fair readers, I pray thee [so yeah… haven’t had coffee yet]: which is more bizarre (or I suppose, which would you prefer) – to have a Missed Connection written about you, or have someone Google your name + job + city, leading them directly to your email address?

Personally, I’m with the intended recipient of this message – I was definitely taken aback to receive the email (“what?! I wasn’t at ***** on Friday, I swear!”). But I’ve read enough Missed Connections to know they can be pretty bizarro as well. But if everyone gave up on trying to find someone after the fact, or resorted to Google search – well, I’d run out of content for this blog, I suppose. Luckily, that doesn’t seem to be on the precipice of happening any time soon.

EDIT: After a thoughtful reader brought my attention to the overly negative connotations of “stalking,” as opposed to the less loaded term “searching,” I revised this term in the post. Thanks.

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4 Responses to Google searching: An alternative to Missed Connections

  1. William says:

    nice blog post!
    i love missed connections…
    re: the google stalking – if i were the person doing the stalking, i guess i would tell myself, “hey, it’s worth a shot, what do i have to lose…”

    • Thanks, William!
      I guess the difference I see is that – although probably futile – Missed Connections is like putting a message in a bottle. Google stalking + then emailing the person is more invasive, like directly knocking on their door.
      That being said, it’s probably common to check someone out on Google or at least Facebook when beginning to go out with someone – maybe just not using this to make the initial contact?

  2. ShellyKorvan says:

    I have so many confused feelings over this event. I will try and go through all of them here.
    First, this email – while ‘proactive’ in nature, overall is harmless. I don’t think this person intended to ‘stalk’ – heck, I’d even change the terms ‘stalking’ here to ‘searching.’ I guess the real shock is that in a period of 5 minutes, I realize a) how many personal details can inadvertently be given out b) how easy it is to track down contact information for someone who inadvertently gave out perhaps too many personal details. Even though the email went to the wrong person, in a relatively short time period the intended recipient was tracked down.

    After much thought, in the age of missed connections, social media sites, and much of our personal and professional lives in general appearing on the interwebs, I realize that perhaps this person’s judgment in ‘googling’ for contact information is not very out of line. I accept that I too am ‘behind the times.’ However, what it did for me was to question how much information I give out to strangers, especially knowing that it could be relatively easy to track me down. This will likely be difficult, given the amount of ‘small talk’ (read: interviewing) that happens when you first encounter strangers at the bars. I’ll have to recite my so-called ‘profession’ ahead of time to be ready.

  3. Thanks for your comment. You’re right – “stalking” is much too intense a word, and there was clearly no malicious intent. “Searching” is a more neutral, and probably appropriate, word.
    I was also startled in receiving the email, because while I attempt to be aware of my online identity (I have some idea what comes up when my full name is used as a search term – like papers I’ve published), I’d never given very much thought to how just a couple out-of-context of details can turn up my personal contact information. It’s one things to carefully manage privacy settings on Facebook, but we’re perhaps less vigilant in person. Maybe it’s because we make a certain amount of judgments about whether we can trust someone, whereas online, you’re less sure to whom you’re giving the information?

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