Readers of this post will respond in one of two way; they will either sheepishly grin and laugh completely relating to it’s contents or they’ll deny any relevance and say I have way too much time on my hands. Either way, do you think I care? Because I know one thing for absolute certainty, even though I’ve never looked into your phone or computer history; what I’m about to talk about EVERYONE has done!
It starts off simply enough. I’m lying in bed next to Alex while he watches Vines on his phone. I start scrolling through Facebook until I come across a picture or an interesting post someone has made. If it’s a picture, I typically try identify all of the people even if I don’t know the person very well. If there aren’t people I know, I carefully push the tag button until the names appear. I’m careful not to push the button too hard because I don’t want to tag myself in a picture of someone I don’t even know. How would I ever explain that predicament? I’m never really sure what draws me to certain people, some I know and some I’ve never heard of before, but before long, I’m way into their history of their Facebook profile, looking at their pictures, mutual friends and About section until I have to click several pages back until I’m back on my newsfeed, which honestly sometimes feels like my feet hitting shore after many days at sea.
Other times, I’ll read a comment someone left on someone’s status and think, “Perfection!” while other times I’ll think “What an idiot”, both responses eliciting a reaction out of me similar to the pictures above. I start looking on their pages, their statuses and our mutual friends. I don’t even know why I do it, but before long, I’ve hit a few of their friends pages and done the same thing, thinking I know them or that they look familiar and before I know it I”m 20 pages deep on Facebook and finding myself scrolling back through until I’m on my newsfeed, safe and sound where I belong.
As I’m writing this I’m starting to think this sounds rather creepy. The truth is that I’ve always had a fascination with people and Facebook is no less intriguing to me. I have my favorites that I look for on a regular basis and I don’t even think they know who they are. (Could you be one of them?) Most of them aren’t close friends of mine and most I don’t even know very well, if at all. Running an entertainment website and being an author has many perks and one of those is the flattering amount of messages and friend requests I receive daily, but the truth is when a friend asks if I’ve seen her post from two Tuesdays ago at 4:30 about her dog’s surgery, the answer is no. I just can’t keep up.
But I can stalk. And I love it. I love being able to find out what’s going on with people that I don’t even know. It’s probably the same reason I like to read books and watch movies and television; I’m completely fascinated by the lives of others. Sometimes I even start to wonder when people who I see regularly on Facebook haven’t posted for awhile.
I didn’t really think any of this was a problem until I had a very serious dream about a “friend” on Facebook who I don’t really know with the exception of having said hi to on occasion. The dream was of the “My Dinner With Andre” type, being that we were sitting over dinner, talking for hours about free trade coffee, the films of Woody Allen and the Prime Minister of Pakistan. When I woke up, I felt a longing to call this person or to reach out to him, feeling that he was a friend, but I realized that he wasn’t. And suddenly I was very sad because I realized that most of these people on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever social media site, were never really friends, they were just online ramblers, like me.
A few times, I’ve even reached out to people on Facebook who I thought it might be fun to be friends with but was given some response that made me understand they thought I was a complete creeper. Apparently it’s perfectly appropriate to meet a guy on Grindr or someone on Match.com and exchange bodily fluids but not appropriate to ask someone to be your friend because you think you have some things in common with them by what they post on a “social media website”. I’ll never be appropriate no matter what. I’ll never fit it. And finally, at 42, I’m OK with that. I may not be cool to you, but I’m cool with me. I just don’t know how to make friends. I accept all friend requests, answer all messages and try to treat people the way I would want them to treat me.
When I was in high school, I used to have this fascination with “wondering” about people. I guess in retrospect it was mostly my innocent way of crushing on guys, but since I did it with girls too, that might not be true. I would find myself just “wondering” about their lives outside of school. I even included this as a major part in my book The Before Now and After Then. Later when I would talk to others about my wondering, I realized you can section people off into two groups: wonderers and non-wonderers.
Me? I’m a wonderer, obviously. I like to ask people lots of questions and daydream about what their houses look like. I like to dig deep into their Facebook profiles and look at their pictures and status updates. I liked to read all of their Tweets and look at their Instagram photographs. Call me a creeper or call me just interested, but I’ll probably not stop anytime soon. It’s who I’ve been since a very young age. I like people. I like getting to know people. It’s part of the reason you’ll never hear me say I hate Facebook. What’s to hate?
And don’t act like you’ve never done it either. Because I can deal with creepers…
But I can’t stand a liar!
P.S. I obviously love social media so follow me everywhere! xo