I just emerged from a pretty hearty session of Facebook stalking. I signed on for one final bit of procrastination before starting this post, just to see if anyone “liked” anything of mine, or added new photos, or wrote anything even remotely revealing.
Not surprisingly, I lost myself in a new photo album posted by a girl I went to college with but have spoken to perhaps five times in the six years since. I was fascinated by the group pictures of her friends—also classmates at good ol’ NU.
This is a common occurrence with me. As much thinking as I do about the friendships in my own life, I’m equally as intrigued with other people’s social networks.
“Oh they’re still friends?”
“Wait, are they not friends these days?”
“So those two are good friends but they’re both best friends with her?”
“How do they even know each other?”
These are the thoughts that go thrashing through my head while trying to decode intricate webs of relationships by way of a photo album.
Having given it some thought, I’d say I’m less interested in looking at my close friends’ Facebook pics than those of long-lost acquaintances. When I’m already clued in as to how the connections fit together, the mystery is gone.
I’ve always wanted to understand the dynamics of other groups of friends. In high school I’d grill Sara about the who’s-dating-who, who’s-BFF-with-who, who’s-fighting-with-who of her nearby high school. I like to see what other friends do together, what they’re wearing, how they interact.
Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that I minored in sociology. The study of human social activity? It’s what I do for fun!
But many more than the sociologists among us do the Facebook photo thing. We’ll gladly click through 200 vacation, or wedding, or random Saturday night shots. People—or maybe I should just speak for myself—love to peek into foreign social lives, and Facebook plays into our most voyeuristic tendencies.
So what is it about other people’s social circles that is so captivating? Is it simply the fly-on-the-wallness of it all? Or something deeper? A desire to see where we’d fit in? Or—and I’d momentarily forgotten this option—am I alone in this mild obsession?