I liked her best friend, so obviously I had stalked her, too. After all, no one is safe when you're infatuated and can't sleep on a Monday night. But I was both impressed and flattered when she acknowledged she had done the same to me. Not that I expected differently.
"Oh, that's right," she interrupted me after asking what I studied. "I saw that on Facebook."
Check your friend requests: The Age of Social Media Sleuthing is upon us. In fact, it's anticipated.
In college, my friend and I used to race to see which of us could find a person online faster - we chose our victim from those whom we eavesdropped on at bars. LinkedIn's advent made that game boring. These days, I can Facebook stalk my brunch waitress while I wait for my pancakes and contemplate adding her since she did tell me her favorite drink here and her boyfriend likes hiking. We could hang out, right?
While social media stalking used to be a late night hobby (in 2011!), these days it's par for the course - the digital age's version of peeking in one's medicine cabinet. Except it's neither rude nor taboo. Indeed, I’m offended if you haven’t stalked me.
Last week I realized I knew not even the last name of a woman whom I was messaging on a dating app. I clearly was not interested in her if I could not take the time to Google her first name + occupation + where she went to school. Because we all know if I had, a buffet of her 411 would have been at my fingertips. Maybe even her other dating profiles. (That happened once. I consequently browsed the person's Plenty of Fish personality report.)
This summer, while out of town on business, I met a woman whose looks besotted me. Unfortunately, I had to leave after two days, and I had nothing but her name and where she received her masters to remember her by. Two hours later, I knew her hometown, where she lived in undergrad (Google Map images too!), and that she was heiress to a major dairy brand. And I am 99.9% confident that Danielle does not have a Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest because a.) I couldn't find it, which means it does not exist, and b.) she has no picture on LinkedIn, so she obviously doesn't invest much in her online image.
LinkedIn is the breadcrumb trail for finding someone online. Every part of your standard introduction is logged there: Name, location, job, and hobbies relabeled as skills. In online dating, this makes asking someone what they do (if it’s not already listed in their profile) akin to saying, “Might I have your social security number?”
Some dating apps already expedite the process by listing mutual friends. Forget you if you block people from searching your Facebook friends. Otherwise, click, click, and hi, Katie from OkCupid – you have the same profile picture here as on there.
I generally stalk someone because a.) they've emailed me one too many times, and I want to see who is this bugger, or b.) we’re talking through a dating app, and I need to evaluate whether their dating profile matches their real profile, and are you as good at crafting a superficial image as a millennial should be? Or maybe you’re a lock-down guru, and I can see nothing, not even a cover photo. Like, I can’t even find the “Add Friend” button. Do you have a dangerous ex?
So where does all this leave us? Let’s start by acknowledging we've stalked each other. When you mention you spent a summer abroad in Australia, I won’t pretend I didn't see the cover photo of you scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef. And you can admit you stalked me, too. I might even like you more because of it.