First came Bernie; then in the days before Tisha B’Av came the corruption arrests of seven orthodox rabbis for offenses ranging from money laundering to black market organ selling. The most recent plague of Jewish scandals has given media outlets from newscasters to late night hosts something to talk, titillate and tweet about.
This raises the issue of “Shem Tov,” which translated from Hebrew means “good name” and reminds me of the story about a man who went by the screen name “Click My Face.” At first glance this bachelor had a solid profile, adorable headshot and, based on his clever pseudonym, a good sense of humor. Three of my friends were instantly drawn to “Click My Face,” yet unbeknownst to all of them, he was dating each of these women simultaneously. Sure enough, it was all figured out over a casual game of Jewish dating geography.
It’s hard to believe just how fast dating news travels. These days, one bad move and your reputation can go viral. People like “Click My Face” tend to forget how easy it is to get busted in the online world, but fortunately, dating and other social networking sites can be used as intelligence tools for singles who have grown tired of the subterfuge.
Judaism places a great emphasis on reputation. Biblically, we are taught from as early on as Noah and Abraham that maintaining a “good name” is a chief virtue of Jewish character, one that is directly associated with being righteous. So, it’s no coincidence that as members of the tribe we are all sensitive to perception.
Due to the anonymous nature of Internet dating, lacking personal accountability for one’s behavior can be tempting. But rest assured, managing a good online reputation is still critical for your own integrity, for fairness towards those with whom you interact and, ultimately, for your reputation. So before you start clicking on people’s faces, here are five Do’s you should practice to keep you character intact.
Online Dating Virtue Rules
1. Do Click with Caution: Online dating may be a numbers game, but word will get around if you conduct yourself inappropriately or play the game to excessive extremes. So, avoid messaging that may come off as insulting, and avoid indiscriminate random flirts. Be sure to weigh your words carefully and watch your tone.
2. Do Keep Stories Straight: The screening process is a juggling act which can be quite confusing, especially if you are actively searching. When processing emails, conversations and first encounters, make sure to manage information in an organized fashion to prevent overload and embarrassing slips or mix ups. Calling someone by the wrong screen name or showing up to the wrong place on a first date may cost you your name.
3. Do Be Sure to Mind Your Manners: No matter how bad that date may have been, it is good form to always say or send a thank you to the person who invited you out. It can be a text, email or a call but these two little words will elevate your standing in the long run. Remember, every next date is connected to the last person you met, so take caution!
4. Do Respect Other People’s Privacy and Preferences: Unless it’s mutual, avoid late night, over-the-top high tech instant messages or else you will quickly get flagged as a creepy Internet dating troll. The last thing you want to do is come off as a desperate dater, so do hold off on instant messaging your prospect(s) just seconds after they appear on your buddy list, especially during daytime office hours.
5. Do Cover Your Tracks: If you spend more than 2 hours a day on a particular dating site, have clicked on a single person’s profile more than seven times in the last hour or been out on more than three dates with someone(s) within a community, be sure to deactivate the setting which lets others know when, how often and what you do when you are online.
Remember, there is a person on the other side of the screen: It’s easy to lose sight of a person’s feelings when they cannot talk back to you, but every individual deserves your undivided respect, if not admiration. Assume you are dealing with your friend’s sister, brother or good friend — it may help you monitor how you treat others.