You Are Not Being “Stalked” on Facebook
The word stalker has lost its meaning. I hear my friends call people they don’t find attractive or interesting who post on their Facebook Walls “stalkers” all the time. We use the term so loosely most people, including myself, are guilty of this kind of “stalking.”
Social media has created a culture where this “stalking” is accepted and encouraged, because we all want to be loved, admired, and feel important in this great, big world. We use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to learn about the lives of friends, associates, celebrities, and of course sometimes people we don’t even know. People freely post hundreds of photos of themselves on Facebook, and update the world about the obscure details of their daily lives on Twitter. But, when someone makes a comment on a post or likes a photo, he is immediately labeled a “stalker.” It’s almost like people say it as a form of self-flattery because they are on the receiving end of unexpected attention.
I’m not saying that people who interact with others on social media sites can’t be dangerous. They can be. According to the Stalking Resource Center (SRC), 23% of stalking victims suffered from some form of cyber-bullying including: threatening or lewd emails from various email/social media accounts, hacking into a victim’s online accounts and changing his or her settings and passwords, posting messages to social media sites and other discussion groups with the victim’s personal information (i.e. address, phone number, social security number). Cyberstalking of this nature is a serious crime (find ways to protect yourself against it here), but unless someone is actually making you feel harassed and unsafe on the net, you are not being stalked.
For both female and male stalking victims, someone they know often commits the stalking. This person is normally a scorned ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, a former friend or a co-worker who is obsessed enough to follow a victim in real life, and not just on Facebook. Stalkers affect the lives of their victims in much more serious ways than an overly zealous Facebook friend. Actual stalking victims are many times forced to relocate, lose time from work, and can even develop severe anxiety, insomnia, social dysfunction, and depression.
From now on keep in mind that most of the people who interact with you on your social media pages are not stalkers. Perhaps they need something from you, are an admirer too shy to approach you in person, or are simply feeling lonely. So please, stop using stalker to describe them, because if they were seriously threatening you, you would have blocked them long ago.