Are you a stalker?
I stalk you, you stalk me!
It is an acceptable exchange, or it isn't? Emphasis here is on the verb "stalk" that should be a universal lingo suggesting the process of online profile search, thus, treat it in conversations as mainstream and mention it in a relaxed, casual tone. If this sounds repulsive and an unfair proposal, then what is the difference between a stalker and a friendly visitor in any social networking site?
To stalk or not to stalk online, that is the question.
Stalking online makes me uncomfortable,
but I stalk, anyway.
Curiosity-wise,(1) both friend and stalker solicit information even if it is only a quick update as, omg! This expression alone invites inquisitive minds. Maybe it is a better application to reveal who visits a profile in any networking site, but what is the assurance a contact would not take so seriously an offence when a former friend suddenly drops by his profile out of curiosity? Usernames are masks both for friends and stalkers. What now?
Consider this scenario: A relative-cum-friend in a site tagged another relative in a message showing a link suggesting she had visited his profile for the past days and months. As if it were true, he officially called her his stalker, and many other stalkers, never mind the family aspect. It gives the impression that the act of "stalking" does not consider whether or not one is a family member. Talk about sibling rivalry (2) as another possible bet. Given this reality, it turns out stalking prevails among relatives as long as one is approved as "friends" treated as "stalkers." Speaking of an urban word "frienemy" here. Just remember how we all want to be treated, either as a family-friend or a stalker-enemy.
Interest (3) rings a bell, too. Deep admiration for someone without that person knowing turns an admirer to a loyal friend, or a stalker, even to the point of obsession. It is a getting-to-know stage in the most convenient and subtle ways. Perhaps this person is a bit conscious of her privacy and customizes who sees her intimate revelations; still, visiting other profiles is an open option, not at all terminated. Information remains accessible.
Again, how can one differentiate "I visit (your profile) to know a little no more, no less" and "I stalk on purpose"? Now it seems harder to explain this to anybody caught in the act. Is it even welcoming to admit you stalked a friend? Does it sound sincere or threatening? Generally, no one is penalized for a quick look on someone's profile or stalking over the top online behind doors.
What it reveals is the stigma when "stalking" is mentioned so many times, but it is as common as a quick search online.
This is getting more particular and complicated. Count the number of hours (4) spent browsing through a profile sunrise to sundown. Call it interest and obsession combined. Stalking perhaps lasts for hours and days while a friendly visit takes about 20 minutes on average. It confuses all the more now that there can be a recognized friend during the day and a stalker by night. Crazy it sounds but plausible. No way it should be expected this person shall tell another right away he did an overnight background check on him or her, for verification.
It brings to mind online background checking for employment (5) as a related factor that can set the divide between a friendly visitor and stalker. It only takes a quick search, connection, and reliable sources to see who is who, what, where, how, when, and why. A security and qualification procedure is a quick and reasonable excuse for this act.
Now then, saying I stalk someone and he may stalk me anytime, is acceptable.
Status (6) is also a candidate. Of course, image branding is crucial, however, consequences may backfire in no time. More often what is at stake is the aspect of being social and friendly; a sense of being one with people scattered everywhere. It spells solidarity. Netizens connect with common interests, life principles, work, expertise, inclinations, and others. The more contacts one has, the more influential he or she is or it seems.
Then again, looking at the suggested factors so far does not change the process of online search-communication with and without permission, acceptable or unacceptable.
Information is still available. Usernames hide identities. Online space invaded.
Here is a reported story: a woman, divorced with two kids, entertained an online courtship with a man later on she found out to be her ex-husband acting up using another name. During "courtship" the woman already showered him details of her past marriage. Stalking charges had been filed.
It is a sound precaution to think-before-click in any networking site. Blame it on confused users, contacts and followers, but for the most part maybe there is no one else responsible but ourselves for trusting too much; for collecting as many friends and fans as possible; for finding online lovers; for our disordered tendencies to seek attention for various reasons and causes, and others more legit or not.
Going back to the gist, this is simply determining what exactly sets online "stalking" apart from a "friendly profile googling." Should I say, who is the stalker, who is the friend?
Okay, (6) intention may somehow fill the gap, say, a "friendly search" or "malicious stalking." If boy keeps track on girl, that is friendly; but, when dad checks on her daughter's updates and comments with a fatherly tone, it is no way friendly, slightly awkward, but more of an unwelcome online visit late at night.
If intention sets the divide, who can read minds and hearts then? Everyone? Words twist and turn who knows what the real score is, what more is the motive knocking on someone's mind and heart.
Is it fair enough that we are all stalkers and friendly visitors in the networking world at some point in our lives?
That we all stalk and search through others' backgrounds anytime, anywhere?
That stalker and friend can be one person?
That when someone says, "I stalked you," the other would simply reply, "I stalked you, too!"
Trust (7) perhaps can finally pinpoint who is the stalker from a friend, but remember, too, that this is happening online. A majority is hardwired into tapping various sites and profiles without surveillance. If trust has been established among friends, stalking is more of a habit shared among them, that is fine. But when these friends stalk each other in secret, there must be something more than what it is.
Again, to treat online "stalking" in conversations as mainstream, in a relaxed and casual manner. That is the trend anyway.
© 2014 chelle