I was scrolling through Instagram the other day, and said to myself I wonder if this girl is still engaged. I haven’t seen any pictures of her and her fiancé in a while. My friend, bless her heart, grabs my phone, swipes down twice, clicks, clicks once more and says confidently They’re broken up – if you look at her reflection in the mirror of her outfit of the day photo, she’s not wearing her engagement ring. It was that easy.
Hi, my name is Christina, and I’m a part-time cyber stalker, and chances are, you are too.
With much help from my fellow cyber stalking friends, I have come up with reasons as to why it happens, followed by when it’s probably a good idea to drop the phone, and enjoy real life, where we can touch and smell pretty things.
Why you do it
- To make sure your ex’s new girlfriend is uglier than you. There’s a magical satisfaction that happens when your ex is unhappy, got fat, and is now dating a troll. It’s not even out of jealousy, or the thought of a potential love reunion – it is simply to have the upper hand in life.
- To see which friends got fat and had ugly babies. It’s awful, but we do it. High school was a long time ago, and sometimes it’s a nice little confidence boost to see other people more miserable than you.
- To make sure you still hate people. I have a love/hate relationship with individuals who seek attention on social media. You know the ones – the same selfie every day, the constant need of attention through overly personal status updates, and quote after quote of writers they’ve never even heard of. I hate them because they’re annoying, but I love them because laughter really is the best medicine (even if it’s laughing at the expense of others).
- You have a secret crush on someone. I always liked the term admirer from afar – it sounds better than one midnight Facebook creep away from a restraining order. You create a pseudo-relationship with someone you’ve never spoken more than two words to, and become devastated when you see a Facebook photo of him hugging a model. Then, you cry while shouting that could be me!
- To research a potential boss/colleague. You have to make sure you’re going to be compatible with these people – especially if you’re a work-crazed maniac that’s going to have your life revolve around your job. Plus, if you find a common interest with the interviewer, prior to meeting them, you have something to talk about if the interview is going poorly.
- Because you can. At the touch of a button, people’s social and personal lives are at our fingertips. It doesn’t necessarily make you feel any better about yourself, but in reality, the majority of our generation needs to be in the loop at all times – and that’s the way the cookie crumbles.
Why you shouldn’t do it
- Your ex could be way happier and fit than you would’ve hoped for. There’s nothing more gut wrenching than seeing your ex happily moved on from the relationship. The biggest downside is that for a brief second, you remember all the good times you had together, and might even question why you broke up in the first place. DON’T DO IT. You broke up for a reason – you need to remember that.
- You can get caught, and if you do, you will never forget it. Which is scarier: Getting attacked by a shark, or accidentally clicking the like button on the 345th photo of your secret crush?
- Filters are deceiving. You could be obsessed with an Instagram Goddess who is always tanned, toned, and titillating. She becomes your inspiration for styling, and motivation for weight loss – she’s perfect. Now, picture running into her at Denny’s at 3:30 a.m. after a night of clubbing, and she’s barefoot, while her makeup is running down her face of frizzy hair, as a result of crying after seeing her ex dancing with a gorgeous brunette. Real life disappoints sometimes.
- If you consume the drama, you pretty much become the drama. The reason this is a no-no, is because if you get so wrapped up in following other people’s lives, you miss out on any experiences of your own. Have you ever heard the saying your happiness is my happiness; your sadness is my sadness? Drama is contagious.
- Catching people red handed can lead to major trust issues. Let’s say you’re calling a friend to hang out, and she comes up with an excuse (ex. I feel sick and/or have to feed my iguana), then later see that she and her boyfriend checked into the local bar via Foursquare; you’ve just been bamboozled. If there’s one personality trait that I dislike, it’s lying. A close second would be people who make ridiculous excuses for themselves, rather than admitting their faults – I could write a whole essay on that one. Seriously, if you’re going to flat out lie to your friend, at least have the decency to avoid all social media outlets for the night.
- A mixture of the above points can potentially cause irreparable damage to your relationships. At the end of the day, all relationships, either friendly or romantic, are built on trust. Yes, social media is a fantastic tool for businesses and people of any industry, but when it comes to relationships, it can really be harmful. At the touch of a button, at the sight of one image, feelings of jealously, anger and sadness can easily overpower your thoughts, and ruin your day.
Lately, I’ve been really trying to avoid cyber stalking -I deactivated my Facebook for four moons, and deleted my Twitter account. In those few months, being disconnected from social media was really peaceful, because I didn’t know or care about anyone’s dramas. Since getting it back (for work purposes), I have been slowly checking the newsfeeds of Facebook and Twitter, but have avoided full frontal cyber stalking. In my non-actual Twelve Step Cyber Stalking Program, I have successfully:
- Admitted that I cannot control my compulsion (1st paragraph).
- Recognized a higher power that can give strength (my friend told me to stop cyber stalking).
- Made amends for these errors (I just turned off Facebook for a while).
- Examined past errors with the help of a sponsor (much love to my friend who reminds me that I shouldn’t be a creep).
- Learned to live a new life with a new code of behavior (I no longer go out of my way to cyber stalk).
- Helped others who suffer from the same addictions or compulsions (I guess that’s what this whole thing is about).
Breaking the habit of cyber stalking is a process, but with some dedication, and will power, I bet my pretty little penny that you can do it too, and live a life in technicolor.
Connect with Christina on Twitter @ChristinaZoubos
Christina is a writer by day, and homicide detective by night. She doesn’t take herself too seriously, so you really shouldn’t either.