The internet is a great and scary invention because the internet knows everything. No matter how hard you are trying to hide yourself, there will always be something, especially something cringy and spicy, to be found about you. These days it is practically impossible to not have any information published on the internet. It is therefore really easy, readily-available, and I guess also common to engage in the occassional stalking on people via the internet – mainly on social media.
“Privacy is dead, and social media hold the smoking gun.”Pete Cashmore, Mashable CEO
I am just another ordinary, casual cyberstalker out of many others. I would proudly say that I am usually quite skilled in finding somebody’s profile. Nevertheless, my most recent crush (and almost-new boyfriend) just seemed to be untraceable.
No matter how hard I tried to find him on social media, both Facebook and Instagram, I failed to do so. Of course, I also googled him; however, I found nothing but his LinkedIn profile (and seriously, who wants to read a bland LinkedIn profile which just kills all the fun of stalking). I spent hours and hours scrolling through all the profiles that the Facebook search of his full name had returned. The result: nothing – absolutely nothing, nada, niet. To be fair, I knew that he was not big on social media at all but who would have thought though that he was basically non-existent.
I had already written him off as a social media ghost when I, just from a spur of the moment really, decided to give it another try. I do not want to sound superstitious when I claim that I had a feeling telling me that I would get lucky this time, yet, my gut feeling beheld true as I managed to eventually pin down his Facebook profile.
As to be expected, my crush had the highest privacy settings, making it impossible for me to see any previous profile pictures, any status posts, or any other content. Every advanced social media stalker knows, however, that there are many alternative ways of obtaining apparently hidden content. The alternative routes only eat up more of your time, but who cares about time when you have nothing planned for the whole day anyway, right?
The most intuitive alternative is to identify and locate the profiles of close friends or, even simpler, family members of the target person, and to stalk their profile instead. In my case, family members were off the plate as I could only find his sister on Facebook, who had also set her privacy to the uppermost restricted level…of course. But being a true grinder when it comes to social media stalking, I pulled up the profiles of his closest friends. Luckily, my crush had used this title photo, whereon he was depicted with five other lads, and it was obvious that these must have been his close friends.
About an hour later I had figured out the names of all the guys shown in his title photo. If that sounds totally creepy and abnormal to you, then I do completely understand where you are coming from. My only excuse is that I was very, very much into this dude – so much in fact that I desperately wanted to learn more about him (I know I could have just talked with him and believe me I would have preferred that. However, he was a sucker for conversing over the phone – so, forgive my stalking, please.)
Anyhow, as I was saying, I had identified five of his apparently close pals. Next followed a good amount of time spent on scrolling through the profiles of these friends. I got rewarded by a decent number of photos featuring my crush in his earlier years. I was very amused seeing his awkward posing in pictures, his absolutely ridiculous baby-face, his unexpected, but love-worthy chubbiness, and his apparently rebellious student life.
As if this was not enough, I continued my stalking on Instagram — the social media platform of the modern cool kids — where I searched for the accounts of his friends. It did not take long at all until I had located the correct accounts. To my advantage, his friends, and even his sister, did not seem to care about privacy on Instagram at all. I wonder why Instagram seems more trustworthy than Facebook?
Without having to request to follow them, I was able to feast on the joys of Instagram stalking. It turned out that his sister is a real Instagram addict, sharing a ton of pictures from her life. I can tell you that I had a rather fun hour going through all her posts like a crazy stalker (which I kind of am, I suppose).
And the moral of this story…
Even though my social media stalking could give me some momentary satisfaction, in the end, I had still wasted a good whole day on this. Moreover, I had not created a real connection with my crush in any way. I had only fed into my illusion of feeling more connected to him through my newly-gained knowledge.
You may wonder what the take-away message of my story ought to be. I honestly do not know, except for the fact that no matter how hard you are trying to protect your privacy, the Internet will invade it, if you want it to be true, or not. Apart from that, I guess you just learned that I am a crazy girl who will go an immense length to find information on people if I am only ,otivated enough. Seriously though, I do have other, real hobbies, such as podcasting, creative writing, being social, and painting, and it is more an exception than the rule for me to waste so much time on social media. Perhaps you can relate to my story, perhaps you cannot; either way, rest assured, I do not blame you for it.