EST. May 2000 (AD)


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You Say Stalking, I Say Healthy Interest: A Guide To Facebook

By Sarah Schaffner

So you heard through the grapevine that your ex is getting married. And by heard, of course I mean you read it on his Facebook page. What? If he didn't want you knowing his personal business anymore he wouldn't have confirmed you as a "friend." Of course "you" is a term we use loosely since technically you did create a profile posing as Roger Shuck from elementary school, in order to have unlimited access to all his personal information, daily interactions and photos. But what's with all the legal mumbo jumbo? You, me, "Roger," can't we all just get along? The answer is yes. In a land called- Facebook.

In the old days, our ancestors had to use primitive methods to stalk their prey, such as: late night drive-bys, repeatedly calling and hanging up, or showing up at their work unannounced and crying uncontrollably. Then, with the invention of things like *69 and restraining orders, these techniques quickly became antiquated and obsolete. Now, with the technological break-through that is Facebook, stalkers can enjoy voyeurism in the privacy of their own homes.

First you must compose an alias to gain their trust, thereby being allowed access to their domain. For optimum results, use the name of an acquaintance who no longer lives in the area. On the surface, this might appear dishonest, stirring up "bad feelings," like guilt or doubt. But if dating you has taught him anything, it's that most people are liars who can't be trusted. So it's best to push those feelings of self-deprecation way down into the dark corners of your soul where you never, ever have to think of them again.

Once you have been invited into the folds, you are free to explore every facet of their lives uninterrupted. You can examine all of their photos in their own photo albums, as well as any pictures of them on anyone else's page. Don't recognize someone? No matter! Simply scroll over the mystery person with your cursor and Facebook will identify them for you- first and last names! You can get to know every single one of their friends and even read personal communications between them. Facebook will inform you when they are online, and even encourages them to post exactly what they are doing at that very moment.

Facebook understands that their relationship status is very important to you and will relay that information, whether they are married, single, or engaged. Facebook will even let you know when they are having relationship troubles with "it's complicated." This can be a helpful cue to you to initiate contact. Or perhaps post cryptic public messages on their wall, such as: "I enjoyed last night. I think I left my underwear on your ceiling fan." Nothing clears up a "complicated" relationship like messages of that nature from strangers. Contact through Facebook can mean a variety of things. You can send a virtual "hug" or "kiss," even a "beer." You cannot, however, send "herpes" or "slash their tires."

Stalking used to be much more taboo, carrying stigmas like "emotionally unstable" or "illegal." But now, thanks to the invention of the internet and Facebook, stalking can take its rightful place, where it was meant to be: In the dark corners of your private room, under a shroud of lies and secrecy.



Sarah Schaffner is a freelance writer and editor living in Baltimore, MD with her husband Jeff, son Avery and three poorly behaved dogs. She writes a monthly humor column in For Her Information magazine and could very well be the last human on earth who does not belong to Facebook. Or does she?

Contact Sarah