The Facebook stalking epidemic: Creeping on each other one click at a time

Earlier this week I found myself in Morgan Library in between classes, getting some homework done on one of the computers.

Just kidding, I was sitting on Facebook. I had about six tabs open, and found myself mindlessly clicking through profiles — clicking on random people I didn’t know and before I knew it I had made my way through 87 out of 135 profile pictures on one person.

Ad

I realized what I was doing while zoning out on Facebook and looked around, feeling extremely creepy. I turned around, and the person whose profile I was on was actually sitting in the row behind me! I closed out the browser window as quickly as possible and left the library, in an attempt to be nonchalant.

We’ve all done it — whether you want to admit it or not — if you’re a Facebook user, you’re a Facebook stalker.

Ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, ex-friends, the latest pregnant or married couple from your high school, that girl in lecture that always has a better outfit than you — all are viable candidates for premium Facebook stalking.

So why do we stalk? In a recent article by the Huffington Post, they say new studies suggest we do it simply out of boredom and personal entertainment.

Facebook stalking is like our own reality show, only we (usually) know the characters, thus providing more entertainment for ourselves. These “characters” can either boost or lessen our self-esteem and mood, depending on the results of what we find while stalking.

I mean, how disappointing is it when you find your significant other’s ex after 23 minutes of stalking, only to find out everything is private and all you can see is a tiny thumbnail of their profile picture? Believe me, I’ve been there — I know the disappointment.

This reality show takes a turn however, when it becomes a dangerous, comparative game. We start comparing our lives to the other, whether we find ours to be better or worse. Are they prettier/better looking than I am? How is it that they are already jump-starting their career and I haven’t even completed my resume? Most of us are familiar with the game — it’s not always a pretty one.

This game begins what I like to call the Facebook delusion.

The problem that comes with this is the outward delusion that some self-conscious, avid Facebook users see when they scroll through others’ profiles.

They see these people — and most often this happens with people outside their immediate friend circle — and assume, based on their Facebook, that their lives are better than their own. They assume that something is wrong with them, that their lives are incomplete and everybody else is having more fun than them.

Ad

This is entirely false — and as many of us do realize this — there is a large majority that sadly, does not. Facebook is not an accurate portrayal of life — it is merely a digital scrapbook where we post things we want to remember, not those that we’d like to forget.

So, what should we do? Do we find other outlets to occupy our relentless boredom in this college age, or do we continue to stalk?

I think Facebook stalking — if we don’t take it too far and remember that it isn’t an entirely accurate portrayal of reality — isn’t all that bad at the end of the day. If it provides us with entertainment and a few laughs during a study break for 20 minutes or so, I say keep stalking.

But if you can’t control it and find yourself stalking for hours on end, getting increasingly angry and depressed about your own life — I say it’s most likely time to quit.

It’s just like the old cliche says: everything is OK in moderation. Oh, but don’t forget — while you’re stalking, make sure you don’t accidentally “like” something on your victim’s page or “subscribe” to their public updates — this informs them they are being stalked (rookie mistake). If you can manage that though — creep on, Rams!

Lauren Stieritz is a senior communication studies major. Her columns appear Fridays in the Collegian. She can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @laurenstieritz.