Facebook stalking.

Okay, okay everyone please step forward. I know that you do it because I do it too.

I’m talking about “Facebook stalking”.

Let’s be honest here. Everyone that has a Facebook does it. Whether or not you it call “stalking” is a different question.

This type of stalking isn’t the same type of stalking that people can get restraining orders for. No, this is different because once you sign up for Facebook, you basically agree to let your wall and comments and pictures be accessed by friends or the public, depending on your privacy settings of course. So in a funny way, Facebook has made stalking permissible—except that no one really talks about it.

By “Facebook stalking” I mean checking out the photos of people you haven’t talked to in while, checking out their comments and seeing what they say to other people. Especially to people that you don’t know but that one of your friends might know. And admit it, there’s a list of 5 or 6 people that are the “go to” profiles to check and get your stalk on—and usually they are also people you never talk to but think they are weird and interesting.

Facebook just makes it so easy to stalk friends and friends of our friends and so on and so forth.

The photo stalk is the most common form of Facebook stalking, because it’s the easiest. It starts with one click on the default profile picture of one of your friends. Then that new little black window pops up and you can click through the rest of their pictures in a matter of minutes or seconds, depending on how many there are. And while you are viewing the pictures, you are thinking how pretty they are or how hot they look or seeing if they were partying or drinking or whatever they were doing—maybe you even “Like” a photo or drop a comment or two. At the same time this is going on, you see someone you don’t know. Luckily, for you they are tagged! So you click on their name and find yourself at their profile going through the whole process again. Sometimes this can go on without noticing for an hour but usually somewhere along the clicking and liking, you come to your senses and go back to your Profile or News Feed. But it’s not like you were necessarily trying to stalk someone—no, you were just bored and Facebook makes it too easy.

Now the comment stalk is a little more in depth and usually happens when you are really trying to find something out about someone. This form of stalking usually starts out in the News Feed when you notice a particularly interesting comment someone has left. There are many variations of the comment stalk but one of the more common ones is the boy-girl comment stalk. For example, you see “Jack” comment on a “Jill’s” status and notice that there are 27 other comments that are hiding. Naturally, you read the whole conversation. By this time your curiosity is sparked so you check out other comments they have left to see what they’ve been saying by clicking and typing your way to the “Friendship” viewer that lets you see all the comments and photos and interests two people share with each other on Facebook. This whole time you are getting a gist of their relationship, formulating ideas in your head like “Maybe it’s more than just something platonic” and “I don’t know for sure” but either way, you aren’t commenting or liking any of their comments—just reading them.

If you don’t know either one of the individuals, the Facebook stalking usually stops when you make your way back to your Profile and log off—at least until later. However, if you do know one of them or even both of them, that’s when it can get a little awkward…

Let’s say during this comment stalk of Jack and Jill’s relationship, you read that they went out for coffee. Unfortunately for you, there is no mention of how the date went or any update from that point on—frustrating isn’t it? Then, as fate would have it, you see Jack. You don’t know if you should ask, “Hey, how did the hangout with Jill go?” because then he will know you were stalking him but you want to satisfy your curiosity. You are presented with 4 choices:

A) You don’t say anything and you never find out.

B) You don’t say anything and find out later during another Facebook stalking session.

C) They bring up the subject and you act completely surprised.

Or D) You remark that you saw it on Facebook and ask them about it.

Personally, with either choice I end up feeling a little awkward knowing something that the person thinks I don’t know. But I usually just embrace the awkwardness and chose D.

It’s funny to me that Facebook has made it permissible to see into other people’s lives without them knowing and that it is enjoyable to do so, for some strange reason. What is really hilarious is when you and I get together and go Facebook stalking together, spending hours poring over what other people do and talking about pictures and comments.

No one really talks about stalking people on Facebook even though we all do it. It’s taboo or something. I’ve tried to start conversations with, “So I was stalking some people on Facebook the other night…” or “So I was stalking you the other night and I noticed that…” but it hasn’t had the effect of bonding a community of Facebook stalkers that I hoped it would. Ah well.

So I’m here tell you hey, it’s okay, let’s Facebook stalk to our heart’s content. There’s no right or wrong to it.

But let’s just get over that inconvenient awkwardness of telling someone, “Oh yeah, I saw that on Facebook…”