What’s funny—or is it scary?—about technology is that even if you break up with someone (platonically or romantically), you can keep an eye on them. You may not speak, but with a little Twitter-Facebook-LinkedIn-GoodReads-Blogging reconnaissance, you can put the pieces of someone’s life together without ever contacting her.
Even funnier, though, is how we’re increasingly able to to figure out just who is checking us out online. An example: Two days ago, a brand-new blogger told me about a girl with whom she’d had a falling out. The circumstances of the falling out are irrelevant, but the two hadn’t spoken in some time. The blogger told me she’d been surprised that her old friend hadn’t reached out at all. She’d been going through an especially hard time and was hurt that the ex-friend didn’t seem to care. Until the blogger started analyzing her blog stats. Google Analytics and the like can often tell you exactly where on the map your clicks come from. Suddenly Blogger could tell that her so-called ex-friend was checking up on her multiple times a day. Via the blog.
Reading someone’s blog is no substitute for reaching out in person, obviously. But for this blogger, knowing that her friend was at least curious, it made her feel a bit better. Like the friend hadn’t completely stopped caring.
This happened once at my old job, too. A coworker would blog during the workday and, in turn, we would read her posts from our cubicles. Until one afternoon she Tweeted something about how fascinating it was to see that her coworkers were stalking her blog rather than doing their work.
Um, weren’t you the one blogging during work in the first place?
And back in the days of Friendster (anyone else out there have a page?) you could always check out who was viewing your page. More fascinating than stalking, let me tell you, is figuring out who is stalking you.
I bring this all up to say, these days, a relationship is never really over. You may not speak, but it’s entirely possible that you keep up in other, quieter, ways. It can be both a relief and a terror, depending on who you’re dealing with. But often even your online stalking isn’t secret. The object of your interest could know you’re checking in.
This is mostly nerve-wracking. If my old college classmate that I was hardly friends with knew how often I check out her yoga photos (seriously, she is a Bikram teacher and does some serious contorting), I’d be genuinely embarrassed. But I do think there’s something a bit reassuring as well, at least when it comes to friend-breakups. So often when we breakup with a friend there are lingering, loaded feelings and loyalties that don’t go away. We want to be able to check in on each other, and there are ways to do that. And to know we’re being checked in on.
It’s at once completely comforting and totally creepy. Huh.
What do you think? Ever caught an ex-friend checking up on you online? Do you appreciate technology for it’s ability for you to keep an eye on ex-BFFs?