Is it really fair to research your partner? Technology has changed the way we interact with people on a scale so significant, that it’s hard to truly comprehend its ramifications. Not only do we have new languages of communication (texting, emojis, gifs, etc.), and a plethora of channels to communicate those languages through, but we can also track people using technology.
With a quick Google search, we can find the address or number of someone else. By clicking on their LinkedIn page we can figure out where they work or went to school. By visiting their Pinterest page, we can find out their interests and hobbies. And by checking out someone’s Facebook page, we can see what they look like, who they socialize with, or even where they are.
It’s all a bit overwhelming to think about, especially when we consider using these tools for the purpose of dating. What information about a romantic partner is acceptable to obtain through searchable means, and what isn’t? Is it stalking to scour their social media to see where they “check in”? Many people believe that anything published online is morally fine; if it’s public domain, it’s fair game. But with our data being unknowingly sold left and right, who’s to say we know every bit of information that exists about us on the Internet? Surely, we don’t. And even if we did, was all of it published consensually?
Many people curate portions of their lives and post it publicly
What about information that’s been obtained illegally, or that they thought was private? Is it immoral for us to review and judge someone else for something they posted several years ago? What about something they deleted (or thought they deleted), but still may exist? There’s no single set of correct answers because there’s no definable precedent – We’re in uncharted territory.
Let’s say you and your partner of three years are ready to move in together. It’s a big step, and signing a lease is a big investment! So is it okay to pay for a 3rd party to conduct a background check or to research your partner? Some people believe that notion would be ludicrous. “How could you spy on the love of your life like that!? Where’s the honesty? What about trust?” Skeptics would choose to protect themselves against the unknown. After all, this is your potential spouse; what if they are hiding a deep, dark (or even dangerous) secret?
What if you are proposed a business partnership with someone you don’t know personally? Is it okay to research your partner and dig into their past by finding former business associates and questioning them without your potential partner’s knowledge? What about paying for a credit score check, and upon receiving those results, you find a subpar score. Well, what if the items negatively affecting their credit score are medical bills from some freak accident, and not at all reflective of their business acumen? It begs the question of whether we’re abiding by social norm or committing social taboo.
We as humans need to collaborate and define what’s ethically correct in these types of situations. Is it okay to search for personal information about a potential business partner or employee? What about a romantic partner?