Never leave a trace of evidence. I think we’ve all watched enough crime procedurals to know that something as insignificant as a strand of hair is enough to bring down even the most devious serial killer. The same goes with your creeping. If you are in the flustered midst of an hour-long lurking session on your crush’s Facebook, way in the depths of the timeline where no one ever has a legitimate reason to be, you touch nothing. You comment on nothing. You like nothing. No one can ever know you were here. “Liking” a picture of someone from two years ago that you had to dig through forty pages of pictures to get to is the equivalent of tapping on their window at night and then licking the glass when they turn to look at you.
Do not go past the first page of Google. Nothing good happens there. You are only going to find things that, through their relative unimportance or age, you were never meant to see. You do not need to know the prize that someone won in their fifth grade science fair. What good could that information possibly do for you? The only thing that could come from this is the tidbit might get lodged somewhere in the less high-functioning areas of your brain, only to come out at the most inopportune time, inadvertently revealing that you have spent the last 48 hours combing the internet for every last trace of their presence. No one wants to be that guy.
Always get a second opinion. Creeping is an almost pointless endeavor if you don’t have a trusted friend to whom you can show your findings with attached commentary such as “OMG isn’t she so beautiful it’s so unfair!!” or “Look at how cute his old blog was!” or “Do you think he’s too Kennedy-esque? I’m not sure about the Sperrys.” It is important to balance out your solo creeping with the objective eye of a friend who doesn’t really know these people and can therefore talk you down from a ledge of your own imagination. Your crush may not be so cute after all, it just may be that you’ve spent all of your free time this week analyzing their photos with a magnifying glass. And the “beautiful girl” in your social circle who makes you feel bad just by existing may be a little more flawless in your twisted mind than she is in real life. That is for our emotionally neutral friends to decide.
Understand that you will be creeped. Call it the Creeper’s Code, call it A Mutual Understanding, call it whatever you want — just know that it is there. As much as you may lose entire afternoons snooping on people you only somewhat know or checking in on that chick from high school who you’re pretty sure got knocked up, someone else is probably doing it to you. If you should find out about such escapades, or discover a wayward like on a very old photo, it is not for you to judge. You accept the fact that this is part of life, and consider yourself lucky to be the object of feverish lurking. Not everyone has the privilege of being watched like a Dorito dust-sprinkled internet hawk, and one day you won’t be of sufficient interest for someone to comb through Google until they find a relevant link of yours from five years ago. For now, enjoy the beautiful symbiotic relationship between creeper and creepee, and know that both sides of the equation hold their pros and cons.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think an ex of mine got engaged. I have to check and see if the new girl’s Facebook profile is set to private.