Things You ‘Cannot’ Do

You can Google someone you’ve just met, want to date, want to work for, have been told about by your friend or about whom you are otherwise possessed of a vague curiosity, but you can never admit that you’ve done this. Even though in the modern era it’s normal for most successful individuals to have a ‘personal website’ which acts as a ‘web destination’ the function of which is to provide information about themselves to people who might be trying to find them on the internet, you can’t say, “I Googled you, I found your website and I read your Tumblr” before a certain point in the maturation of acquaintance, because then you look like a creeper.

You can’t tell someone that you perused their Facebook profile, even though their profile was not private, i.e. clearly perfectly available to be perused by those curious about them [caveat: they’re dumb at the internet and don’t realize everyone can see everything they don’t designate behind privacy settings]. You can’t tell them you did this, even though at some point the person set their relationship status to “single”, therefore probably wanting at least most of their friends and acquaintances to know they are single.

You can’t Google someone and you can’t look at their Facebook profile–no, no, wait, more precisely, you cannot tell them you’ve done this. Despite the fact that they (and you, yourself, probably), have proffered a significant degree of personal and professional information upon the altar of social networking, presumably to be perused by others, it seems somehow gauche if, when they tell you, “I am a Systems Administrator,” you say, “I know, I saw your Facebook.”

Even though you put your phone number on your Facebook profile, when a stranger you’ve met only briefly lately texts you, you will show the texts to all your friends and go “oh my god, what a creeper. He stalked my number off my Facebook and now he’s texting me.”

And then when you see that guy a little while later and he says, “Did you tell your friend I was a creeper,” you can’t say, “Yes, actually, I thought it was weird when you texted me.” You can laugh non-committally and just be like, “Oh, haha, no, it’s a really funny story, me and my friend, we have these inside jokes.” Or you can master the blank look and be like, “Huh? You heard that from who? I have no idea what you’re talking about,” and figure if you look shocked enough and make eye contact intently enough, they will believe you.

Because you can’t confront them. You can’t get in an argument. You can be cold, you can avoid, you can be fake, but you cannot, you absolutely cannot, tell someone you don’t know very well how you feel about something that’s small.

You cannot just text people at whichever hour you feel like. The hour at which you text someone conveys your opinion of how available they are to you. You can’t text someone you just met at 1:35 AM on a Sunday night. That’s just weird. There is something wrong with you. If you do that, the person you are texting will tell their friends you are a creeper.

You can’t smile at a stranger. Even on days when you’re experiencing a lot of happiness and you want to spread it­­, you can’t, because you seem strange. You can’t walk up to someone you don’t know and talk to them about how their day is going or how yours is or about the shop you find yourself both in. Because unless you’re hitting on them or you want something from them, that’s just crazy.

If you’re, say, a woman with a stroller and you’re trying to get the stroller through the door of your apartment building and it would really make your day if someone were to stop walking by and hold it open for you, you can’t raise your voice into the flow of foot traffic to ask. Because, like, what if you’re interrupting someone? What if you give the impression that you think your life, your day, your needs, are any more important than anyone else’s? The world doesn’t revolve around you. You can’t ever ask for help, you know.

You can’t hug people for too long. You can’t put your arms too far behind their body or too intimately beside their ‘waist zones.’ If you do that they’re going to assume you have feelings for them. If you have feelings for them, you can’t say so. In fact, you should probably touch them less than usual, because you don’t want to be a creeper. You don’t want them to ‘get freaked out.’

If you have feelings for someone, you can’t really be like, ‘I like you,’ because it’s pretty unseemly to put yourself out there. What if they don’t like you? What if they are the kind of person who will be more attracted to you if you’re, like, aloof, or cool? Don’t you want them to be attracted to you? You can’t give any impression whatsoever other than that you’re entirely independent, you have a life full of things and people, and anyone will be lucky to earn even a sliver of your precious time.

I mean, when you say ‘I like you,’ people hear ‘I need you,’ and that’s, like, totally unattractive. You will be needy. Or you’ll be ‘too available,’ to where the person to whom you confess yourself will be like, “welp, I’ve got [your name here] in the bag, and [your name here] is kind of cool, but it seems like I have some time to look around and see what else I can have that might be better, since [your name here] is so available, having taken the extreme risk of ‘putting him/ herself out there,’ for me, like why would [your name here] do that unless he/ she were hilariously desperate?”

And, like, let’s say someone says, “I like you,” to you. What a loser, right? Unless–and, dude, this is the absolute worst–unless you like them back, in which case: Obviously. Run like hell, right? Because probably there’s something wrong with them, you can’t just go randomly considering whether to reciprocate the feelings of someone who is needy enough to stick their necks out like that, for you. And, like, what if you end up ‘in a relationship’? Oh my god, you might actually owe them your real self. That’d be ridiculous. You can’t do that. TC mark


More From Thought Catalog

  • Simon

    Lovely article!
    I guess like most of us I’ve made some of the “I creepd your Facebook” and “I like you” mistakes, but hey, you learn from them, right? Even though that’s totally dumb that’s just how society and social interaction works… it’s crazy.

  • Confused


    These are the most ridiculous society-accepted behaviors…what is wrong with us?? 

  • Guest

    i’ve had this conversation so many times.  loved this article.  

  • best guest

    I don’t understand. 

    The term “creeper” is so overused it has become almost vulgar. When someone says they “totally creeped on [person of interest] last night,” no they didn’t; they simply look at information that was very accessible and provided to them by the very person they were “creeping” on. 
    Why is it not okay to admit that you looked at things that someone obviously wanted you to see? 

    • Confused

      people have made it this way, we have no control of this, even when you, I, and many other people do accept this is not right, we also have to accept that even we have come to accept this new vague term that makes no sense whatsoever. 


  • guest

    love it….that is all

  • a.

    “Type your comment can’t just go randomly considering whether to reciprocate the
    feelings of someone who is needy enough to stick their necks out like
    that, for you. And, like, what if you end up ‘in a relationship’? Oh my
    god, you might actually owe them your real self. That’d be
    ridiculous. You can’t do that.”

    …this is why i’m single.

  • Alli

    People who want to date me admit to googling me all the time. Well, it’s not outright “hey, I googled you!” but they’ll make a comment about my blog, and I’ll call them out on it. “You googled me!” They will admit to it, head down, “Yes, I did…” and I wont tell them that I googled them back. I guess they’re trying to say, “I don’t mind that you post daily pictures of men you find attractive on the internet” but all I hear is “I googled you and I’m admitting it!”

  • Sarah Quillian

    I’m going to text you tonight at a very inopportune hour just to prove that I have accessibility to you.

    • Leigh Alexander

      didn’t i say i was calling you in like 2 hours

  • Alex Thayer

    this is an incredible article that i can completely identify with at this point in my life.  as someone that has been redefining my own sense of what things are “acceptable”, i’ve found that i really care less about conventions, for the most part.  why do we place ourselves in a world where we can’t embrace our emotions, or talk to strangers?  fuck people who think that things like that are weird, they’re weird for being so plain.

    • Annie Highley-Smith

      you’re so weird alex.

      • Alex Thayer

        you’re weird

  • Anonymous

    I smile at random people on the street all the time. The other day a Korean grocer was having trouble unloading a box of produce from a truck so I stepped over and helped him out and he smiled and thanked me in Korean or something and it was like Disney. it was pretty cool.

  • fulldamage

    I have changed my life goals; I now aspire to be an insane, huggy creeper.  I think I can probably pull this off.  

  • mashka

    a long time ago back when internet stalking hadn’t even reached its prime yet (we’re talking 2006 or 2007), this older rather creepy man that I worked with strolled up to my cubicle one day to tell me that I was “all over the internet” and that he saw that I was an honors student in high school so I “must be smart”. And then smirked at me and walked away. So basically he admitted that he googled me. SO fucking creepy.

  • mashka

    also in Russia you actually will get looked at like a crazy person if you smile at a stranger on the street. It’s just not part of the culture to do that in the first place so instead everyone looks perpetually pissed off

    • SisterRay73

      See also: New England.

  • Anonymous

    I’m going to start doing all of these things to see how many friends I can maintain

  • Matthew

    I appreciate a facebook profile that has all of the books/music/movie slots filled out. It tells me you’re as self-aware as myself about having a cool looking internet presence, and are smart enough to work the internet. It always beats seeing

    “Twilight”, “I don’t read books lol”

  • Tanya Salyers

    Gosh, SO true.  Sometimes I wish I had the backbone to stand up after doing one of these things, out of the social norm.  

  • NoSexCity

    Interestingly, it’s easier to let information you picked up from someone’s internet presence slide into conversation than it is to say precisely where you found it.

    At this point, is anyone surprised when new acquaintances Google/FB lurk them?

  • Maxwell Chance

    I do this shit 24/7. I am also a creeper, but whateva’.

  • Sophia

    This was absolutely perfect.
    In related news: I am ridiculously passive aggressive and lack a backbone altogether. Glad to know I’m not the only one.

    • flipside of a memory

      me too.. :(

  • Sophia

    It’s interesting that the people who don’t obey these social norms are the ones who we look at as weird, or “lacking tact.” Society’s norms of interaction are just really, really weird.

  • cwboyer

    This article got me to look up your Facebook. We have mutual friends.

  • Annie

    i really love this! thank you

  • Frida

    “What if they are the kind of person who will be more attracted to you if you’re, like, aloof, or cool?”
    Is this true of people? I’m stuck with something like this.

  • Sutali

    you can actually do most of these things quite successfuly without being brandished as a creeper. Men can actually do these things. There are quite a few social tweaks you can try for yourself. Say something contextual to a stranger about the situation around you, ask the person at the restaurant if they are waiting for friends and then invite them to your table regardless of their answer.

    It really comes down to presentation and confidence. Be aware of the consensus, but if you go in thinking people are going to call you a creeper, you will come off as a creeper. Go in like this your approach is the status quo, and this won’t be a problem. 

    Also, every form of communication has had its awkward  phases where there were no “norms” defined. Just wait it out.

    Stalker used to have a meaning. The public threshold is so arbitrary now that the state can never do anything.

    • douchegirl

      “It really comes down to presentation and confidence. Be aware of the consensus, but if you go in thinking people are going to call you a creeper, you will come off as a creeper. Go in like this your approach is the status quo, and this won’t be a problem. ”
      Holy shit, I just had a vision of you walking into a restaurant all suave and macho-like, kicking ass and taking names. 

      WELL DONE. 

  • Kat

    A friend of mine from uni confessed to looking through all of my Facebook photos. And there’s a lot. Don’t know why you would say that… but anyway, since then i’ve changed my privacy settings so that person can’t see some of my albums and also all of my tagged photos. 

blog comments powered by Disqus