Gone are the days when I could make stuff up about myself on a date. Nowadays, a new love interest probably knows all about me before we even meet for coffee.
So suggests the results from a recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
It seems that most adults are online and proud of it. Not only have half of the adult population "Googled" themselves or somebody else; they're reportedly also unashamed of the information available on them.
Indeed, most "self-searchers" (e.g. ego-surfers) say they have found what they expected among the content associated with their name.
Apparently the fine people of America have become "more aware of their digital footprint." Pew researchers think the results reflect how people share "more and more of their lives on the Internet."
And we're not just talking blogging or social networking. "YouTube, Flickr, Facebook and MySpace are encouraging users to post their home videos, photographs and personal profiles online, including data ranging from their favorite movies to their cell phone number."
While there's simmering concern that providing too much information online might be dangerous, the study also found 61 percent have not felt compelled to limit their information, while only 38 percent have taken steps to control it, including restricting access on social networking sites to friends only.
And web users increasingly search the Web for someone with whom they've lost touch, as well as people they dated. Women were slightly more likely than men to research someone they were dating or someone they were about to meet, while more men than women said they looked up friends, someone from their past, or a colleague or competitor.
With search engines becoming more reliable, it's inevitable that people seek refuge for deficits in their knowledge of others via search query. If anything is worth knowing, it's bound to be online.
As the saying goes, if it's on the Internet, it must be true. Read the results of the study in their entirety. (But if you're in the mood for a four-second challenge, just Google it!)
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