You can Google someone you’ve just met, want to date, want to work for, have been told about by your friend or about whom you are otherwise possessed of a vague curiosity, but you can never admit that you’ve done this. Even though in the modern era it’s normal for most successful individuals to have a ‘personal website’ which acts as a ‘web destination’ the function of which is to provide information about themselves to people who might be trying to find them on the internet, you can’t say, “I Googled you, I found your website and I read your Tumblr” before a certain point in the maturation of acquaintance, because then you look like a creeper.
You can’t tell someone that you perused their Facebook profile, even though their profile was not private, i.e. clearly perfectly available to be perused by those curious about them [caveat: they’re dumb at the internet and don’t realize everyone can see everything they don’t designate behind privacy settings]. You can’t tell them you did this, even though at some point the person set their relationship status to “single”, therefore probably wanting at least most of their friends and acquaintances to know they are single.
You can’t Google someone and you can’t look at their Facebook profile–no, no, wait, more precisely, you cannot tell them you’ve done this. Despite the fact that they (and you, yourself, probably), have proffered a significant degree of personal and professional information upon the altar of social networking, presumably to be perused by others, it seems somehow gauche if, when they tell you, “I am a Systems Administrator,” you say, “I know, I saw your Facebook.”
Even though you put your phone number on your Facebook profile, when a stranger you’ve met only briefly lately texts you, you will show the texts to all your friends and go “oh my god, what a creeper. He stalked my number off my Facebook and now he’s texting me.”
And then when you see that guy a little while later and he says, “Did you tell your friend I was a creeper,” you can’t say, “Yes, actually, I thought it was weird when you texted me.” You can laugh non-committally and just be like, “Oh, haha, no, it’s a really funny story, me and my friend, we have these inside jokes.” Or you can master the blank look and be like, “Huh? You heard that from who? I have no idea what you’re talking about,” and figure if you look shocked enough and make eye contact intently enough, they will believe you.
Because you can’t confront them. You can’t get in an argument. You can be cold, you can avoid, you can be fake, but you cannot, you absolutely cannot, tell someone you don’t know very well how you feel about something that’s small.
You cannot just text people at whichever hour you feel like. The hour at which you text someone conveys your opinion of how available they are to you. You can’t text someone you just met at 1:35 AM on a Sunday night. That’s just weird. There is something wrong with you. If you do that, the person you are texting will tell their friends you are a creeper.
You can’t smile at a stranger. Even on days when you’re experiencing a lot of happiness and you want to spread it, you can’t, because you seem strange. You can’t walk up to someone you don’t know and talk to them about how their day is going or how yours is or about the shop you find yourself both in. Because unless you’re hitting on them or you want something from them, that’s just crazy.
If you’re, say, a woman with a stroller and you’re trying to get the stroller through the door of your apartment building and it would really make your day if someone were to stop walking by and hold it open for you, you can’t raise your voice into the flow of foot traffic to ask. Because, like, what if you’re interrupting someone? What if you give the impression that you think your life, your day, your needs, are any more important than anyone else’s? The world doesn’t revolve around you. You can’t ever ask for help, you know.
You can’t hug people for too long. You can’t put your arms too far behind their body or too intimately beside their ‘waist zones.’ If you do that they’re going to assume you have feelings for them. If you have feelings for them, you can’t say so. In fact, you should probably touch them less than usual, because you don’t want to be a creeper. You don’t want them to ‘get freaked out.’
If you have feelings for someone, you can’t really be like, ‘I like you,’ because it’s pretty unseemly to put yourself out there. What if they don’t like you? What if they are the kind of person who will be more attracted to you if you’re, like, aloof, or cool? Don’t you want them to be attracted to you? You can’t give any impression whatsoever other than that you’re entirely independent, you have a life full of things and people, and anyone will be lucky to earn even a sliver of your precious time.
I mean, when you say ‘I like you,’ people hear ‘I need you,’ and that’s, like, totally unattractive. You will be needy. Or you’ll be ‘too available,’ to where the person to whom you confess yourself will be like, “welp, I’ve got [your name here] in the bag, and [your name here] is kind of cool, but it seems like I have some time to look around and see what else I can have that might be better, since [your name here] is so available, having taken the extreme risk of ‘putting him/ herself out there,’ for me, like why would [your name here] do that unless he/ she were hilariously desperate?”
And, like, let’s say someone says, “I like you,” to you. What a loser, right? Unless–and, dude, this is the absolute worst–unless you like them back, in which case: Obviously. Run like hell, right? Because probably there’s something wrong with them, you can’t just go randomly considering whether to reciprocate the feelings of someone who is needy enough to stick their necks out like that, for you. And, like, what if you end up ‘in a relationship’? Oh my god, you might actually owe them your real self. That’d be ridiculous. You can’t do that.