The Plus Side of Stalking

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?

4 Comments

Filed under The Search

4 responses to “The Plus Side of Stalking

  1. Melinda

    When I found out that my ex-BFF was stalking me, it did make me feel better. It’s odd, I know. I always felt like the reason we weren’t friends anymore was because her husband didn’t like me. He doesn’t like strong women and he believes that women should be seen, not heard and they darn well better be in the kitchen making him a sandwich. After being friends with me for awhile, she started asserting herself and that did not go well at all. Either way, according to her, her reason for dropping me as a friend were because I gave her teenage son liquor (which I did not and she would not let me speak to said teenage son to straighten that out). It gives me a strange self satisfaction to know that she still checks up on me.

  2. Nicole

    I think it makes us all a little crazy when technology connects us to people that we should have moved on from. Yes we can track their new experiences via photo albums and status updates, but it ultimately gets framed within the context of who that person was back when we knew them.

    All of this reminded me of a line from a thoughtcatalog.com article I read earlier this week, “Facebook won’t let me forget. These people shouldn’t be in my present. They deserve to be in the past. But in 2011, there is no past. You’re not allowed to grieve anything because nothing actually dies. It just sits there slowly decaying…”

    • Suzannah

      I am not on Facebook, when I tell people that I get the strangest looks. But I feel the older I get, the more I am determined to live in the present. Not to mean, being on Facebook means you are not living in the present.
      I know myself and I only have so much mental energy to dedicate to friendship. So I want friends to come over, get pedicures, go shopping, just spend face to face time….and with 4 kids I have to commit to making that happen or otherwise email& text are way to convenient.
      I have fond memories of people in my past, but if we didn’t naturally remain in contact, then I have to just wish them well and God bless!
      I think this saying holds a lot of wisdom.
      ” Don’t go digging up the past, all you get is dirty”

  3. Cheryl

    I love this – I actually have a friend who is not technically adept, and it’s the same kind of comforting/reassuring to know that, even though we don’t speak, this person is still checking up on me by asking one of my other friends how I’m doing. :) I guess it depends on how the information is used – as long as they don’t start showing up everywhere you go when you don’t want them to, it’s nice.

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