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Have you ever searched up your crush on your Facebook? Checked his or her latest Facebook status for a quick check up on them? Well, I assume most of you guys have, and I proudly admit that I am guilty of stalking.
Yet, some of you may be confused of why I am so proud of announcing myself as guilty when stalking is definitely considered as a serious crime under almost all countries’ jurisdictions. For those of you who were wondering, let me clarify this significant misunderstanding - the stalking for me is just an innocent, teenage-way (well I guess you could say immature as well) of socializing. So no worries! It is just a harmless activity in contrast to the real stalking which is extremely offensive and harmful to others as a different form of harassment and/or intimidation.
Stalking as my official career?
“Professional stalker” - that has been my title for the past several years of my life. Most people might be thinking that I’m a random creepy little pedophile who might go track people down to their homes at midnight, but nope - that’s not how I handle my stalking career.
Whenever I was introduced to someone I had never heard of, it has always been my top priority task to complete before I could do anything else such as doing homework, or preparing for the big semester exam. As stupid as it may sound, and as pathetic as I may seem, I personally enjoyed being the so-called “professional stalker” a lot. The process of stalking required a lot of patience. Since I wasn’t one of technology’s closest friends, I faced some difficulties and limits in my process of stalking - such as not being able to search the right people on Facebook.
However, I whispered “challenged accepted” to my dearest technology, and used it for my advantage to analyzed some most-used SNS programs. Then I figured out that most of my friends who went to international school frequently used Gmail, Skype, Facebook, and Instagram, in contrast to my Korean friends using Kakaostory and Naver.
From stalking on different people’s Facebook pages, I was able to come up with my own little analysis upon different types of people on Facebook, mostly categorized by the level of security of their profile. The significant difference between people who share their personal information or pictures with the world and those who didn’t could show me about what kinds of values they were living with. People who shared their information seemed to value the fun of their life. They seemed to be very outgoing, open, and YOLO type; but when some Facebook pages got to the extreme level, I could see a lot of pictures of them drinking and partying. On the contrary, people who didn’t share their information seemed to value themselves higher. Most of them seemed to be hard-working, fairly intelligent, and protective of themselves in terms of their physical and/or virtual safety.
Although not everyone might agree to this analysis that the “professional stalker” has came up with, it was useful for me when I allowed people to follow me on Instagram, or when I accepted friend requests on Facebook.
Why is it so “fun”?
It was fun to stalk, or as I might just say, “to get to know them better”. But simply “getting to know people better” would have easily lost my interest. The main reason why I was so into stalking others profile was because I could relate to my interests while I was doing so.
For instance, I would come across some fashion bloggers’ Facebook pages or Instagram which reminded me of my interest in fashion and its newest trend. I would usually get my newest fashion inspirations by looking at their pictures, and by looking at the malls they shop from their Google maps. Sometimes, I would let myself ponder for a few minutes to play one of those childish games where I would dress up our Barbies with their new outfits. Some of my virtual Barbies would wear a modernized traditional Korean dress, and others might wear a tutu skirt with a muscle tank from an old band.
On the other times, I would find myself looking at some MUNers’ Facebook pages to figure out if there were any conferences that I could participate. Or just simply try to figure out what types of online resources they use to prepare for their country and issue research.
Also, I appeared to be very useful to some of my friends when I did my routinely quick check up on my friends’ Facebook pages. As I have always had a great interest in psychology and teenage counseling, I was pretty keen on finding out what was wrong through their shared SNS information. Because I was always the one to approach them to ask if anything’s wrong, I could be my friends’ “3:00 AM” - someone that you can call even at 3 AM without feeling guilty of waking him or her up. My friends could open up themselves to me to share their deepest and the darkest secrets and concerns, and it was a great pleasure to me as see my friends’ faces getting brighter as they shared their burden of concerns with me. I felt very privileged to be not only their one and only 3 AM friend, but also to be able to help my loving ones. Stalking, believe it or not, also took a great part in a lot of my strong friendship bonds.
The Non-teenage Forms of Stalking
It would be a total lie if I said that stalking was always good - because it isn’t. Numerous people attack the boundary of others’ privacy by not only virtually misusing the social networks, but also physically such as following them around.
According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, about 6.6 million people above age 18 was stalked in America during one-year period. As this is quite a significant number to be ignored, actions such as reminding people of the severity of violating the privacy or even giving a harsher punishments should be taken immediately to reduce the victims of stalking crime as soon as it is possible. It is inhumane of the society to ignore those 6.6 million people as the victims can suffer from serious emotional distress.
Stalking is not only seen in our daily lives, but it is actually a very important in keeping the national security. For example, North Korea and South Korea have always been stalking or spying on each other ever since 1949. Also, nations have been using cyber world for the security of their country. National Security Agency has chosen professionals to be part of team to lead the nation in the protection of the country’s interests in cyberspace. These professionals with the IT background knowledge are working to keep the safety of the country.
To conclude, I like my title as the “professional stalker” after all, but I doubt it’s vitality in my interest. Although stalking others online as a teenager is fun, I wouldn’t want to imagine myself, leaning over my laptop at the age of 36, stalking my friends from college instead of being more productive and actually working for my life. Stalking others as a middle-aged woman would peak its patheticalness, not to mention the creepiness, and I wouldn’t want myself to be a pathetic woman, but a self-driven, motivated, and a smart wonderwoman. Not only do I not want to be pathetic or creepy, but the studies have also shown that most SNS websites are the most popular amongst teenagers - which means that I won’t be having very much to stalk even if I wanted to.
As enjoyable as stalking is, I guess it’ll just remain as a part of my good teenage memories. :)