There are two types of people in this world:
1. People who research the object of their affection on social media
Officially, “stalking” is defined as unwanted or obsessive attention by an individual towards another person. Lately though, it’s been distorted into a casual verb of endearment with regards to social media.
“I was stalking him on Facebook the other day, and I found out he likes to play paintball and listen to Eminem. He also likes to eat grapes, owns three dogs and a hamster, and uses a yellow toothbrush.”
Not too long ago, it was impossible to even begin to contemplate someone’s location, let alone their interests. Now though? Now you could quite easily orchestrate a casual run-in at the park with a little help from geo-tagging. You’ll be fully equipped with things to talk about as well: Facebook’s About Me section’s got your back.
Gone are the days when, in order to get to know a person, you actually had to… get to know them. You had to dig deep in order to unearth their quirks and pet peeves, their hopes and their fears. These days, people hardly even scratch the surface. Rare is the art of convincing another to confide in you. Who’s got time to engage in an actual conversation? Who’s got the attention span to keep listening?
We choose to turn a blind eye at this, but how disturbing is it that by the time you reach a destination, the person you are due to meet is probably well aware of what time you left your house (WhatsApp), your attire (Instagram) and that you’re “so hungry omfg can’t wait for dinner maaan” (Twitter)?
Worse still is when a person we are interested in doesn’t engage in social media. Suddenly, we are faced with the terrifying concept of having to ask them for their date of birth, not to mention the fact that we would be required to wish them in person rather than simply writing on their walls. Suddenly, we don’t know their favorite food, what kind of music they listen to, or how many ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends in their past. For goodness’ sake, how am I supposed to find out what color his toothbrush is?!
The temptation to shut down my Facebook account has arisen more than once over the past couple of months. I haven’t given in to it, with the excuse of “how am I supposed to see which pictures I’m tagged in?” prevailing time and time again.
But in reality? I have my social media accounts because I want to be able to present a version of myself that I think will appeal to people. It’s ridiculous how much we rely on Facebook to discover information about a person, when we’re painfully aware of exactly how much we manipulate our own material to present the best possible version of ourselves, meticulously edited profile picture and all.
You see, that witty bio is going to paint us in the way we want to be seen when maybe, hopefully, that person whose pictures we were flipping through last night decides to stalk us too. How romantic.