New Students Flirt, Find Love By Poking Friends On Facebook

Talia Alberts

By Talia AlbertsContributing Writer

It was love at first poke.

“You’re from Coto de Caza (a city in Southern California)?” Jonathan Simrin wrote in a Facebook.com message to SESP freshman Sarah Rosenbaum. “I’m a real big fan of ‘The Real Housewives of Orange County.'”

Little did the Weinberg freshman expect when they first started talking that they would spend so much time together during the first few weeks of classes. The two first met in person at a Hillel Cultural Life mixer for new students at Ethel’s Chocolate Lounge, 527 Davis St.

“I didn’t recognize him right away, but he came up and introduced himself,” Rosenbaum said. “We ended up hitting it off and really enjoying each other’s company.”

For the past two years, students have rushed to join Facebook, a popular online social network.Armed with their new Northwestern e-mail IDs, it has become common practice for students to begin “friending” each other long before moving into their dorms. The site helps students search for others with similar majors and avoid an awkward first phone conversation with their new roommate.

It also has become a trendy way for couples to meet, as in the case of Weinberg freshmen Nihar Shah and Rucha Mehta. The pair connected through an Indian student Facebook group.

“We started talking on Facebook, and we had connections through other people we knew,” Shah said.

Shah went to Chicago with his family a week before New Student Week and met up with his current roommate and other incoming freshmen from the area.

“Both Rucha and my roommate were part of a group of North Shore students who met on Facebook and started hanging out together before classes started,” he said. “I would have never set up meeting someone I had only met on Facebook because that would be creepy.”

Mehta and Shah continued to hang out once they came to NU and eventually started dating, Shah said.

Others adopted a more direct approach.

Weinberg and Music freshman Amber Hruska “friended” hundreds of people during the summer but started posting on McCormick freshman Joseph D’Onofrio’s wall because of their similar interests. Both were traveling to the Italian coast over the summer and share a love of country music. They met through a mutual friend on the first day of school.

D’Onofrio said he thinks their correspondence on Facebook allowed for an easy transition into a relationship.

“I didn’t talk to anyone else like that on Facebook,” said D’Onofrio. “It wasn’t one of those awkward interactions because we felt like we knew each other and were immediately making fun of each other and flirting.”

But both Hruska and D’Onofrio are quick to warn that Facebook can lead to some unpleasant interactions as well.

“Facebook can be misleading,” said Hruska. “It sets up cool things, but it’s not foolproof. People might not be what you expect them to be, but this time it happened to work in our favor.”