Facebook stalker: a cautionary tale

Kevin VanAntwerpen

Facebook. It’s one of the most revolutionary inventions our generation has seen. It changed the way America conducts its social business. But there’s one category of people who can appreciate it even more than social butterflies, and that’s crazy people.

Let me clarify – by crazy people, I don’t mean those guys who stand in the free speech zone and tell you to repent of lust, alcoholism, drugs and literature (I don’t think they believe in Facebook). Nor do I mean those of you who lurk around online for hours, browsing through pictures of people you barely know. Let’s face it – everyone does that at least once in their lives.

I’m talking about your ex-girlfriend or boyfriend who misses you terribly, whose bedroom walls aren’t visible thanks to a wallpaper coating of your photographs and whose love letters you will never receive. I mean the people who are so enamored by your wonderfulness that they’d do just about anything to be in your presence. The ones who like to drive past your house in the middle of the night and watch you through your window from across the street.

Think for just a moment about all the information you share on Facebook, whether through status updates, photographs, information tabs, liked activities or comments. Each one of those bits of information are pieces to a greater puzzle – it’s not hard for someone to find out a startling amount about you in just a few clicks.

As technology increases, so does your stalker’s ability to watch you. A relatively new application called Foursquare networks with your cell phone and announces when you “check in” at a location. So if you decide to head to the nearby Starbucks for a triple grande caramel macchiato soy latte, it will be announced on your Facebook and your stalker friend can conveniently “run into you” at the counter.

I’m not condemning Facebook by any means. As a musician, I understand its benefits equally as much as crazy people (then again, us musicians always tend to be our own brand of crazy). Facebook is a useful tool. But similar to anything useful such as a scalpel, a gun or the spoken word, it can also be dangerous if used carelessly.

Having a Facebook page loaded with too much information about your personal life is the digital equivalent of allowing anyone to press their palms against your bedroom window. If you don’t want your boss finding out about how you spent the weekend partying with his daughter, make sure you untag those pictures quickly.

I’m not saying that if you use Facebook, the bogey man is going to get you, but if you’re not careful, your crazy ex just might.

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