Taylor Swift Syndrome.
a.k.a the time I realized that what I put on the Internet can be read by anyone in the whole world (particularly the one person I hope will never find it).
I realize this is a basic assumption most people have about the Web. We’ve all heard it. Nothing on the Internet is in pencil. It’s chiseled into a stone tablet, never to ever be erased for the rest of humanity.
I know this. But the reality of it didn’t sink in.
Until I started online dating.
We’ve been running the blog for three years now, and I typically assume the only people who read my blog are my mom, sisters, Em, and my cousins. I didn’t really think about whether strangers read my blog until I started online dating.
I know people in other parts of the country have different thoughts about online dating. In Texas it’s almost embarrassing to be online dating — on par with leaving your house in your workout clothes with no make-up (shameful behavior for a Southern woman). But in New York it’s simply an extra curricular activity. If you’re single and not online dating it’s considered a bit weird.
Though I’m not currently on any dating sites, I’ve tried almost all of them: E-harmony, Match.com, OK Cupid, Hinge, and even Coffee Meets Bagel. The only one I haven’t tried is Tinder, athough I have a friend who met her amazing boyfriend on the app.
The first time I experienced what I have now deemed a case of Taylor Swift Syndrome it went like this:
I got a notification that I had a message on my match.com profile. Score. Getting messages is hard. A lot of people will ‘like’ your profile or ‘wink’ or ‘tap’ or whatever, but rarely do guys send an actual message. When a girl gets a message notification she drops what she’s doing and checks it.
I open the message and it’s a few paragraphs long (impressive… this guy must be looking for something long term). Second paragraph in he says, “I hate to pry but just wanted to know if you’re still dating the pizza and wine guy.” Double take. What? He was referring to a recent blog post. But how in the WORLD did he know I had a blog? And he didn’t just go the site, he must have read multiple posts to get to that one. I felt violated. He seemed normal enough though, so I responded to his questions and told him “no, we’re not still dating.”
But I had to ask, “How did you find my blog?’
His response: “I Google imaged you and your blog came up… so I read it.”
Homeboy was doing his recon. I’m not sure why this was a shock to me. My blog is live for the world, and it is on the Internet.
I hoped that would be the only incident, but during my 6 months of online dating, regardless of the dating site, men kept finding my blog and seemed particularly interested in my Sexless in the City series. One guy even started his email with a quote from my Ghosting article, and then said, “I’d never do that to you… so uncool.”
After the 6th time it happened it finally hit me: nothing I put on the Internet is private. And I have to be ok with anyone — friends, family, strangers, guys I’m dating, guys I’m not dating, and exes — reading what I put on the blog.
Message received, Internet. I hear you LOUD and CLEAR.
Part of this reality makes me want to scale back what I put on this blog. It feels so much more vulnerable knowing that strangers and potential boyfriends, and really just anyone can read this (again this should be obvious to me as I have put this on the internet). But it also makes me come back to the why behind this series. The impact of it feels deeper and more vulnerable to me now. And it may affect my dating life. But I do think it’s important to be apart of a conversation in our culture full of hooking up and ‘ghosting’ and one night stands that offers a different perspective.
This is when I realized I have a very similar problem as Taylor Swift. You know how whenever Taylor Swift dates someone she ends up writing about them? From Joe Jonas to John Mayer to the multitudes in-between. She’s a heart on her sleeve type of woman, and she may get slack for it. But I applaud for it. After much research I’ve decided for those of us who put our thoughts on the internet for the world to see there’s and certain people we date will be apart of our writings there’s a condition. I call it : Taylor Swift Syndrome. And I’m self-diagnosed. (Yes, I made this up. But it feels fitting). So let this act as a public service announcement to any man reading my blog:
- First, I think it’s cool that you’re reading my blog. My audience is mostly women, and it’s great that you’re supporting me. Leave a comment and let me know if there’s anything you want to hear about from a girl’s perspective.
- Secondly, if I’m writing about a dating experience it’s not in real time. I think it’s important to not react in the moment. If you happen to become a subject, I will let you know.
- Finally, if we do date… or even if we don’t and I just like you and have a crush on you I’ll probably Taylor Swift you a.k.a. write about you. But don’t worry. I’ll never identity you and call you Nam (instead of Sam) who lives in Wooklyn (instead of Brooklyn). I’ll keep your identity private. Unless of course we fall in love and you ask me to marry you and we take engagement photos. Then I’ll put them all over the Internet. So get ready.