Internet Lurking at Its Best

Diane Oh/New University

I know that girl. Well, kind of. She doesn’t know me, but I know her. I know her first and last name and I’ve seen so many of her photos on Facebook and we have so many mutual friends that I practically am friends with her in real life anyways. She just doesn’t know it. Or does she? Oh, Facebook. You’re turning me into such a creepy person.

‘Fess up, people. This has happened to you, too. This has happened to just about everyone who uses Facebook regularly. They just don’t want to admit it.

Internet lurking has been gaining popularity for quite some time already: fast connection speed, Wi-Fi, smartphones, access to profile pictures, status updates and location check-ins are all at the tip of one’s fingers. One can easily match a face to a name or find out someone’s location in just seconds, courtesy of the amazing capabilities of Facebook. Thank you, Mark Zuckerberg.

More than once, I have had friends tell me stories about witnessing other people Facebook-stalking me while in class. Me! A mere, ordinary female student at UC Irvine. It’s not as if I am famous or have any creeper-worthy photos to look at. I find it highly amusing and just a little bit flattering.

Facebook-creeping could get just a little bit scary, too. There is a reason why it is called Facebook-STALKING, and not Facebook-browsing or Facebook-insert-happy-action-word-here.

If you think about it, Facebook-stalking someone’s profile is similar to peeping through that person’s window. You wouldn’t want to be caught doing that, would you? That would just be embarrassing, and frankly, a little unsettling.

According to Cosmopolitan magazine, lurking on your significant other’s Facebook page can place a strain on your relationship. Even obsessing over another friend’s wall-to-wall or photos with her boyfriend can cause you to activate a “grass is greener” syndrome within yourself and your significant other. Likewise, tensions occur when you keep analyzing your man’s friend list, or when you start freaking out over every girl who writes on his wall. Seriously, people.

Unless your man lived as a hermit up in the mountains prior to knowing you, he is definitely going to have female friends on his friend list and on his wall. Stop being the avid Facebook creeper and analyzing every single thing on his profile. If you really don’t trust him (which is a red flag anyways), go talk to him directly.

Stop wasting time potentially building a mountain out of an anthill and killing yourself over nothing. Just keep in mind that what you see online has a great tendency to be different from reality.

Issue yourself a virtual restraining order! Give yourself a slap when you catch yourself creeping too much. Instead of gazing starry-eyed at that cute guy’s drool-worthy profile picture and dreaming up sappy romantic scenarios of bumping into him on the shuttles, get off your butt, away from your laptop and actually go (realistically and uncreepily) meet him in real life!

You can’t meet someone of your dreams by simply staring at his Facebook photos all day. Plus, think of how weirded out he will be if he ever accidentally finds you lurking on his page before you two actually meet IRL. Awkward moment, anyone? Let’s try to avoid that.

Also, if you find it uncomfortable to have people find out so much about you prior to actually meeting them, make sure your Facebook privacy settings are set to your preferences. Hide everything on your page to strangers, and don’t post private information online.

Yes, technology is wonderful. It’s probably one of the best things in this world. It’s probably what makes us feel lucky to be living in the 21st century. But honestly, before Facebook and MySpace and Twitter became popular and created so many advanced features, we never really could check up on people 24/7.

We always had to resort to phone calls or chanced on randomly bumping into people around town. Now, however, the Internet has become a wonderful stalking device. No shame.