sponsored post: online stalking – creepy or harmless?
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Remember when there were rumours that Facebook was releasing an app that would let people see who was stalking their profile? Did you perhaps experience a mild pang of panic, much like I did, at the thought of that info becoming readily available?
If so, I’m not surprised.
As much as I would be curious to know just how many of my friends frequent my profile, I would definitely not want anyone to know whose profile I have been lurking in my spare time.
Sure, I stalk my best friends, and I occasionally stalk my less-than-friends just to check in on their lives. But what I would find humiliating would be for those people that I only know a little (enough to add them on Facebook, but not necessarily have coffee with) who I thought were kind of cute, to find out how regularly I visited their pages. I didn’t do it in a creepy way (I swear!), but it became a habit sometimes to just wander past their profile during my regular Facebook trawl, just to see how they were going and maybe – you know, every so often – to check their relationship status. How is that a big deal?
As if you haven’t all done it too.
Online stalking is hardly limited to Facebook, and in my opinion, has become a standard of modern dating. A quick Google before a date, or searching for the Facebook profile of that guy/gal you met on Saturday night to remind yourself if you found them that cute after all, is hardly uncommon.
It’s natural to want to check someone out before committing your affections to them – and curiosity is a normal part of dating (and human interaction in general). In fact, the only reason why online stalking gets such a bad rap is because it’s more accessible, and there is way more information available these days to stalk than good old ordinary stalking.
I mean, I remember being in high school before Facebook and smart phones (I know, what a dinosaur), and I would just stalk the object of my affection through alternate means – like memorizing his schedule, and figuring out where he sat at school assemblies. No one was calling me obsessive then – it was just normal teen behavior. If, however, I was stalking their Facebook profile obsessively, turning up to places they ‘checked-in’ to, and memorizing their Spotify song preferences, that would be considered all kinds of crazy.
Online stalking is considered more obsessive than casually trying to memorise a crush’s timetable because the level of information that we have access to goes way beyond what we’ve ever had before – now we can tell a person’s date of birth, hometown, job, social life, relationship status, political views, religious views, and spelling and grammar aptitude from one webpage. It’s pretty scary in a way.
That said, we can almost completely control what’s available to others via our social media profiles. For example, I have no hometown, date of birth, or relationship status (I like to maintain an air of mystery).
I think with online stalking, there are quite a few double standards floating about. I am guilty of a lot of stalking, but would feel weird if I knew people were stalking me (unless it was out of pure admiration, in which case I would be flattered).
I think its super annoying when I can’t find all the details I want on someone from their Facebook profile, but am very stingy with the details that I make available to others.
I think there would also be a bit of disparity in how online stalking would be perceived based on how appealing you found the stalker, which basically just means that most conventionally attractive people get off scot free.
A friend of mine started online dating a little while back using eharmony.au, and refused to use her actual name for her profile. She also didn’t have a photo. Alright, fair enough – I mean, we live in a relatively small town and I get that you might not want to scream to the world that you’re single, or even that you’re actively seeking a relationship because that’s personal info.
But we would then meticulously stalk her ‘matches’ online, trawling their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles to suss out their suitability (despite a fair amount of info already being available on the dating site).
Ultimately, whether or not online stalking is a bad thing is very much dependant on the actual stalking in question. If you’re casually checking in on a person’s profile because you think they’re a bit of alright and you like keeping track of them, that’s fairly acceptable. If you’re obsessively tracking the movements of the date you had last month, who still hasn’t called you back, and you start taking it personally whenever they ‘like’ the status of another woman, then it’s probably no longer healthy.
Dating is a tricky game, and to be honest, I’d be happy to take whatever help I can get through online profiles and social media. Online stalking can be a little creepy at the extreme end of the spectrum, but checking someone out online before committing to them in person, is mostly just common sense.
Besides, wouldn’t you prefer to have someone camping in front of your Facebook profile than in front of your house?
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