The Dos and Don'ts of Internet Creeping.
It was a day just like any other. I was sitting in my uniform cubicle, decked out in a super cute outfit no one would appreciate if it wasn't hashtagged #OOTD on Instagram, filling out my latest work spreadsheet and fantasizing about what I would eat for lunch in just a few hours.
I had no doubt it would be an uneventful morning. But then my phone lit up with a notification.
As I reached for it to see who had liked what or who was telling me about who, my stomach sank to my butt. My ex-boyfriend's girlfriend had liked one of my latest Instagram pictures.
I figured there was no way that this could be real. Was she waving her white flag at me? Was she throwing in the towel on our completely nonverbal and indirect animosity? Or was her “like” a mistake?
I quickly took a screenshot of the situation for evidence, knowing full well that, when I refreshed the app, her “like” would be retracted. And I was right. After a full minute, I tapped that swirly little icon and her like was gone. Even better, she'd set it up so I was blocked from checking her profile. In other words: Bitch got caught red-thumbed.
I'll admit it: Before this mishap, I'd personally stalked her profile a bazillion times. But I'd never be so amateur as to double-tap on accident. My thumbs know better, and so do I.
Yes, there are rules to the Internet stalking game. Here they are.
1. Do it in the privacy of your own home. This here pro tip works for any number of things — being naked, singing out loud, dancing alone, farting. But I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping your moments of Internet stalking within your own four walls. The reasoning behind this tip may seem obvious, but there's more to it than you think. In general, no, you don't want people catching you in the act of stalking. How embarrassing for a friend or coworker to walk up behind you only to see you going to town on someone's Facebook profile! Not only that, but when you're Internet stalking, you should be concentrating as hard as you would when you're pimple-popping. Ever watched someone else do that? Look at how closely they're standing to the mirror when they do; there's maybe an inch of separation between them and their mirror when they're going at it with a zit. Ever startled someone in this situation? Their reaction is uncontrollable, and it never ends well for either party — you, them or the zit. If you allow yourself to be subject to becoming startled while actively Internet stalking, double-taps and accidental clicking of the “like” button are prone to happen. So remember: When you stalk, stalk alone and in a quiet environment.
2. Do not keep ongoing lists of stalking details. I don't care whether it's in your phone or on a real sheet of college-ruled notebook paper: Don't write anything down! Not even if the person you're staling posts a picture at a restaurant that you've been meaning to try and but can't remember the name of. Memorize that shit. Same goes for any clothing, drinks, foods or any anything else that your subject may showcase. Having someone accidentally see your note-taking will shame you for life and strip you of all stalking privileges. Bury that shit in the recesses of your mind.
3. If you ever have the chance to meet who you stalk, say nothing past “Hi! Nice to meet you!” You're not allowed to speak or carry on any sort of meaningful conversation with the victim of your acute Internet stalking skills — not until you've cultivated an actual, real-life relationship with them. Then — and only then — may you actually talk about the things you saw on their profile or feed. I say all this because you will let information about them slip that completely blows your cover unless you're actively trying not to do so. You will let them know that you know their birthday, their dog's name, their last boyfriend's name, what they wore on Tuesday, whose house party they were at on Friday and that they were sick with a cold two winters ago and made chicken noodle soup from scratch to cure it. Something will slip, trust me. So, instead, just pretend you're a cripplingly shy person who takes a while to trust people. Maybe they'll find it endearing? If not, you can always feign being a mute.
4. Keep all hands, feet and utensils away from the device that is fueling your stalk time. When you scroll, scroll slowly. When you decide to stop on a particular post or picture, back your hands away completely from the mouse pad, mouse or screen. If you have to creepily hold them behind your back like an observant museum-goer, do so. If you have unusually heavy breathing that could possibly set something off, hold a piece of paper in front of your mouth. Just be sure that the area is clear and you leave no room for any monumental or humiliating errors. Oh, and if you do accidentally click or tap something, don't go all cray and privatize/block your profile like my ex's girlfriend did. Chances are, the stalkie knows exactly who you are already. There's no hiding, so just own it.
5. Friends don't let friends drink and stalk. Or smoke and stalk. Or snort and stalk. Just be sober when you stalk or every single previous tip given will be for naught. Your inhibitions will be lowered and your clear judgment completely muddled when you mix any sort of alcohol or drug with stealth stalking. Beer plus stalking equals getting caught, liking everything, commenting on posts and telling your stalkie face-to-face that you love her new chiffon that she posted the other day and it's not weird that you stalk her every night before bed because she's just so cool and so pretty and you wanna be her friend so why can't you guys be friends?
6. Stalk hard and stalk often. Think about it: Where would we be today without the expert-level skills of our generation's greatest Internet creepers? In the dark, that's where. Ignorant to what your ex has been up to? What his girlfriend looks like in a swimsuit? The deadness behind their eyes in group pictures? Unaware of what your crush gets in his Chipotle burrito? Blind to what cool girls who you'll never be friends with are wearing on a daily basis? Those are problems of a distant past, an empty and dark time that, fortunately, we've long since moved past as a society. Embrace this new reality. Just make sure to follow these rules as you do.