Monday, 4 February 2013

I know everything about you (from Facebook)

Facebook has the power to destroy a relationship. Fact. Well, a potential one anyway.
The fact that the site actually has a term, 'Facebook stalking', is creepy enough. You're having a chat with someone, you ask what they're up to and you get the response: "Not much really, having a quick Facebook stalk and then I'll get in the bath." 


AT LEAST subconsciously, you must be questioning when it became socially okay to declare your prying on strangers profiles publicly.

The worst part by far has got to be when you're in a bar, you look around and see Sally who you technically actually don't know, but you know she's got a boyfriend who she's just celebrated her 12 hour relationship with and she loves going to the cinema on Wednesdays and her mum calls her Sweetiepie Sally. 
You know too much. And you don't know her. That's bad enough as it is...

...Let's just hope you're not one of those who forgets that Sally doesn't actually don't know you, because she hasn't spent hours stalking your virtual life, and you ask "Hey Sal, how was the cinny on Wed?" -- n.b. at this point, she either walks away - which realistically is probably the most desired situation for you - or she, rather awkwardly, asks how on earth you knew she was at the cinema - and for heaven's sake just make out you were there too! No one publicly confesses to this shit!

It's the same when it comes to boys/potential romantic interests (PRIs) though. Too much trawling, and you think you know them before you actually do. At least give him/her a chance to defend themselves against that hideous photo you found! 
I think that right now there's a strong risk of excessive Facebook stalking either:
a) putting off you eventually meeting because there's no desire to 'get to know' them 
b) putting you off them altogether - oops.

The fun of meeting people is about starting from scratch and building relationships, but Facebook gives you this weird one up from the start, and it can turn out to be one of the best platforms ...or the shockingly worst.


  1. I don't think it was ever okay to 'stalk'. I think the real issue is with privacy rights and the ethos of the site in its entirety.

    Profile available is manageable and more often than not, censored to the account holders sanctification. Connections are established based on 'friend requests' and these just as easy to sever as they are to fuse. With that in mind, what is online has been thoroughly vetted and deemed suitable for an ‘online presence’.

    I agree with your concerns around the idea of stalking but assessing what impact that could have on a future relationship would be difficult to quantify. However, the information made available through a profile could arguably serve the process of character establishment in a more efficient manner. I.e. through talking and meeting.

    1. Sure the ethos of sites such as Facebook is in question, but the counterargument is that we not only sign up to it under conditions of free will, but I, and I am sure 99.9% of the people that do sign up, forego reading the T&Cs. It's difficult to argue too much against the ethos when you look at it like that.

      And I fully appreciated what you state as what's chosen to be displayed it deemed to be appropriate for an 'online presence', but I think I was more making fun at when you see someone and accidentally know TOO much about them before you've actually properly, officially met. That happens so often, and this post was actually as a result of a (drunken) conversation at the pub whereby such an incident had occurred.

      Undeniably it would be a difficult assessment to make as to whether it affects future relationships. I should note the tongue in cheek stance on this post; I'm not making serious scientific judgements.

      I'm merely stating how nowadays it's so commonplace to announce your viewing of other's, perhaps strangers/"friend of a friend's" profiles, as normal behaviour without second thinking how peculiar it really is - when you think about it.

      The benefit of profiles are, as you pointed out, character establishment. It serves a good purpose there, and too for the arranging of meeting and so on. In light of 'potential romantic interests', I just wonder if all these personal and character preferences weren't on public display as to whether it may take some people so long to arrange to meet. :)

      ps. I really liked your comment - you gave me something to think about!

  2. But surely Facebook creates relationships too. I propose a third option...c) as you alluded to in your last paragraph, it enables you to take that perceived head start, thus making you want to meet a person even more!?!

    Technology has given us the ability to make so many advancements, whether it be in the field of science, medicine, or, dare I say it, on the battlefield. Socially, I now feel more connected than ever to my friends, friends of friends, work colleagues etc. Facebook has allowed this, for better or worse. But like so many other technological innovations, it can be abused. As you have noted, people can 'Facebook stalk', now is this abusing the so called social network? No, it is merely our curiosity, programmed into our DNA as humans, getting the better of us. It becomes abuse when one makes the conscious decision to allow it to dictate ones actions.

    Character establishment, yes, based on what you are being exposed to. I mean you are judging someone's character on the basis of their profile....which you hope is a true and fair representation of them. It comes down to human psychology, after all little Jimmy, deemed 'uncool' by his peers, is unlikely to then announce on Facebook he likes barbies?? Now it is irrelevant as to whether a barbie is cool or not, this is merely a hypothetical. We are all guilty of pausing, or thinking long and hard, before we choose to update the Facebook community of our quotes, interests, hobbies and so forth.

    Destroy relationships or create them, the net effect, in my opinion is a positive one. This ground work one acquires via fb stalking (a rather crude term, I agree. But definitely socially acceptable) is merely trying to make the social market place more efficient. After all, this 'one up' you describe may be built on foundations of sand not stone. Meeting this person satisfies the curiosity we all quietly desire, whether one be starting from scratch or not.

    Loving the profound and captivating blog ��

    M Zuckerberg

    1. Yup, I would entirely agree that it certainly can give you that draw to get to know someone, and thus want to meet them more. Maybe I'm airing a contentious opinion, but I wonder just how many people are captivated by the editing of one's profile - the careful selection of photos, the wittiness of one's statuses and so on. I'm not a materialistic person, but good grammar and a nice "appearance" - albeit in this circumstance an e-appearance - don't go unnoticed. Am I saying I could potentially be put off someone who writes illiterately consistently? Call me pedantic, but I guess so.

      Facebook, and every other social networking sites have made an undoubtedly HUGE impact on our lives, for better and worse. In such a circumstance I reiterate my stance of casual, harmless 'Facebook stalking'; I'm in no way going down the avenue of actual stalkers utilising social networks in a perverse way. I definitely see your point that it's human curiosity to delve and be inquisitive, and that's what I find interesting about the link with PRIs.

      The stark reality of the digital generation came to light in a recent conversation with my father when he mentioned how 'back in his day' if he liked someone he had to tell them face to face, risk rejection face to face and get to know them face to face, which in comparison to nowadays - where you can learn, perhaps way too much, about people online - is just shockingly different.

      Re your comment on character establishment, again this is down to personal interpretation. I know for one that I feel that I need to perhaps make comedic status' or to ensure I am tagged in decent photos - it's just crazy how we live in such a digitally accepted and contrived world. More so when you imagine a future PRI could be viewing your profile. (And, bless them if they click on mine and see links to this blog they'll soon realise how outspoken I am!)

      You've made a good point though - "this 'one up' you describe may be built on foundations of sand not stone". I'll remember that next time some crazy 'cool' boy adds me on Facebook...

  3. One could certainly argue it creates relationships too. But this is almost the essence of the problem. What type of relationship are you creating if you never intend on meeting?

    But let's not deviate from the original point which was centred around stalking on Facebook. This form of stalking has implications for both parties involved. Firstly, if someone was in a situation as described in the original post, where you feel you know someone to a certain level before you have even met them, surely that person is guilty of the stalking and is the nub of the issue? Secondly, if you are on the receiving end of the stalk, assuming they have not advertised it, how would you ever know and is it even a problem?

    I understand your process behind questioning the impact on the decision to meet someone could be affected by this ‘research’; however, I feel this all comes back to the acceptance of an 'online presence'. Regardless of the T&C's, the majority of the Facebook user-base know what is involved with uploading holiday snaps and tagging themselves, as an example.

    If people are uncomfortable with connections knowing sensitive information before they meet, surely don't make it available to the masses?

    Enjoyable discussion, by the way :)

    Anonymous person from before (APFB)

    1. I have to clarify I did not intend in my original article to suggest the formation of an e-relationship created with no intentions of meeting. What I meant to get at, and perhaps did not express myself cogently, was that a boy, for example, may add a girl on line (let's stick to a utopian scenario and link them through a friend of a friend) after his mate suggests they would get on well due to similar interests etc etc. So they start talking, and just keep talking and talking with every intention to meet up - it's just they get to the point where when they want to meet they already feel like they know the person. The original "she's hot!" desire may have faded somewhat down to the elongated e-relationship formed online. I'm not saying this always happens, but it can and I suspect does. I know SO many people who have e-friendships and the ratio of them meeting face-to-face to talking online is just shocking.

      With regards to you asking the question of how one would ever know someone has stalked one's page, well it just comes out sometimes. Take for instance my Sally Sweetiepie scenario, that happens! Asking someone what X event was like or how good Y film was, and them suddenly thinking... hang on you've clearly been having a sneak. The best example I can currently think of might actually relate to a status someone wrote a month or two ago - long enough that it would definitely NOT be randomly found on the homepage - and the viewer talking to you about a topic in it. In such a situation it becomes clear that they have been back tracking on your profile.

      I wasn't suggesting there is something wrong with this, just acknowledging as an inquisitive girl how with relating to PRIs this can lead to comedic situations which are hard to talk your way out of.

      Very enjoyable, APFB.