Krazy Kelsey: Do We Need A 12-Step Program For Social Stalking?
- March 10th, 2011
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The latest ads from Virgin Mobile feature the “relationship” of Brad and Kelsey. They had an amazing first date! And now she’s climbed a tree outside his bedroom window and is using her Android powered phone to surf his Flickr stream and compare herself to his exes, email photos of their date to her mom, and watch his Foursquare check-ins for patterns. Wait, WHAT?! The commercial ends with the tagline, “Go Crazy With Android,” and Kelsey has certainly done that, but there’s an element of her behavior in anyone who has a social network account. That’s what makes the commercial hit home for its target audience. For Millennial users who have come of age in the Facebook age, a little social stalking is no big deal. It’s not real stalking, right?
As Youth Advisory Board member Carline Marques described in her article on dating in the Facebook age, “Teens don’t use Facebook as a social dating network exactly, but they definitely use it to stalk their crushes…. Facebook makes it easy — you cruise their profile, check out their pictures and friends, see their music tastes, and if they talk to you every time you’re online, then score!”
Over on Social Times, Amy Summers thinks most people wouldn’t want to know who’s been checking out their profiles, and wouldn’t want others to know who they’ve been checking out…or how often or for how long. But since online stalking is anonymous, most of us do it anyway, to some degree. Of course, one can control one’s “stalkability” though privacy settings.
Still, Caroline is right, Facebook makes it easy to check out your crush. And just in time for Valentine’s Day, some enterprising young developers created new apps for the lazy stalker. Breakup Notifier tells you when your friends that you are interested in have changed their relationship status, and iWould lets you identify which friends you’re romantically interested in, and if they’ve also said they’re interested in you, both of you are notified so you can get going on that relationship.
The challenge with social media is that it’s always on, so we never have to take a break from it. It can be a problem when it comes to bullying in school that makes the leap to bullying online…and also when it comes to relationships. Sure, simply “cruising” someone’s profile is a long way from going “Kelsey Krazy,” but where do we draw the line? Is checking someone’s profile daily stalking? Or is checking several times a day? Is it stalking if you’ve met the person in real life, or if they’re only an online friend? Is it stalking when you follow all of their streams — Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Flicker, etc.?
High school and college students are getting wise about managing privacy settings and content they post to their profiles to maintain their image online, but it might be time to add a discussion of morals and ethics of online stalking to the mix. And the sooner the better before we all need a 12-step program to relieve us of our social stalking addictions.