I had a friend reach out to me to ask me what I thought about her old flame somehow managing to view her Instagram account photos, even though she blocked him. Now she blocked him as more of a self protective measure in that there was no future together and she needed to set some boundaries for herself. She wanted more than he could or would give but the temptation to allow him to remain in her life was great...so she blocked him for herself, more than because he was so out of line.
I found myself asking the question...who is stalking who?
He is because he is now trolling her instagram account for information about her life, but she is similarly stalking him because she knows what he is up to!
What does it all mean?
That we are all bored and disconnected.
And completely missing how to really intimately connect with another.
Well, that is my conclusion. We are all sitting at home and the information is right there. Information that can lead us to believe that there is a connection, when, in fact, there is not. Perhaps there never was...but maybe, there was at some point. But the powers that be ended that some time ago and now there is just this digital footprint to be surveilled.
I am not calling out my friend. I do it too. Although not with old boyfriends...I really only have one for the past 20 years and he doesn’t do shit with his online presence. Not that I would bother looking even if he did. He told me when we first started dating that he didn’t have any interest in that. I think I looked up his account one time in the very beginning and I have never been back. Sometimes it was tempting...but honestly seeing what he was up to (or not in my case because he never posts anything) was not healthy for me and way too painful at the time.
I do it with other people. People I see read my blog that I don’t know. I become interested in why this stranger is suddenly reading me. So I investigate. I usually find out nothing, except more about the person I am cyber stalking. And it never really tells me what I want to know...like what caused them to read the blog. I instead get lots of information about their lives: who they vacation with, if they vacation, what they like to eat or drink, whether they hike, workout, take nature photos, plaster photos of their kids all over the place...stuff like that which really tells me only what they are willing to share publicly and really nothing of real substance about their lives.
But I will say that reading someone’s online world does paint a picture, often an extremely inaccurate picture, but a picture nonetheless.
It has become the stand in for dating, connection and interest. We determine if someone is interested in us by reviewing whether or not they “liked” something we posted online. Instead of asking them or them telling us. And to be honest, I can’t tell where I stand on this...
On the one hand, it makes me incredibly sad. As someone who really wants and desires a loving, true partnership connection, all this online bullshit is gross. Empty and hollow and lacking any real depth and weight. I opted out of online dating some time ago. Not for me. It makes me shallow, an ass and someone I do not like.
On the other hand, I get it. There is a pandemic. We are all discombobulated and disjointed and connecting online is easy. It costs us almost nothing in emotional currency and when you are done with your cyber stalking of someone, you can just move on to the next one and there is a limitless number of next ones.
I am pretty sure that I land in the place where I determine that online dating will be the death of true love. It will so ruin true connection, intimacy and commitment that we will all be subject to the superficial hit and run forever, whether they last a night, an hour or a lifetime.
Back to my friend...
She asked me what I thought this guy’s online cyber stalking meant...
I said the following:
“Who knows what he is doing? What are you doing? Why would you care what he does? You deserve better than what he is willing and capable of giving you…whatever it is that he is up to…is likely to not be enough for you. If you want to re-engage that is totally up to you…but go in with eyes wide open and know that stalking someone on social media just means that you are stalking someone on social media…nothing more.”
And I meant it.
Writing a story about someone’s online behavior that says anything about true motive or inherent interest is kind of like saying that watching cat videos all day will put you in the running for a Nobel peace prize. Completely asinine. Two wholly unrelated events.
Who knows why our online behavior is what it is...examining my own, one could conclude that I have a shopping issue (true...), I become completely obsessed with things (currently tea from France) and I am trolling the interwebs in search of entertainment, not true connection. If I really wanted true connection, I would pick up the Goddamn phone and make a plan to talk to a person, in person!
The minutes and hours I give over to reviewing all the crap on Facebook and Instagram has not ever really paid off for me. I am not a more in-depth thinker, master connector or knowledgeable about anything but someone else’s online behavior.
I guess the most important thing I have learned from my own online dysfunction is that it is a piss poor substitute for in person, loving connection whether that be friendship, love or sex. Online has nothing on the real life. But if I am not careful, the online world and all its temptation and addictive patterning will consume the limited amount of time I have for forging a loving connection with an actual real person.
So the question comes back to, as it always does, What am I doing? And why? These two questions will always lead me back to the only place that I will ever truly learn anything...what does my own behavior mean and am I truly behaving in a manner that is consistent with who I am, what I believe and what I want.
And, just in case you are wondering, my cyber stalking is always a result of loneliness, boredom or procrastination...sad, but true. Which leads me to the logical conclusion that yours is too...