Cyber-Stalking: The Shameful Truth

By tully | "Boredom at Its Boredest" by Michael Tully February 1, 2007 at 5:52AM

Cyber-Stalking: The Shameful Truth

This is an uncomfortable subject to bring up, but I feel like it needs to be addressed (in other words, I don't feel like attacking the SILVER JEW trailer right now, so I'm going to waste some precious time babbling about a ridiculous topic that doesn't deserve one sentence, let alone however many paragraphs that are about to follow--be forewarned).

In this modern era of MySpace and Friendster and Flickr and who knows what else, it is dangerously easy to keep tabs on other people. I'm not talking about celebrities we fantasize about, I'm talking about boyfriends and girlfriends who are no longer in our lives. I've discussed this with several acquaintances recently, who made me feel better about my own inexcusable behavior. It's actually quite hilarious, albeit in a cover-your-face, cringe-with-shame kind of way. Actually, it isn't hilarious at all. It's disgusting. Which is why I feel the need to confront it head on and suffocate the concept forever.

The gist of the situation is that these aforementioned websites, in addition to many others, allow individuals to create 'personal profiles,' which contain a basic list of personal details that reveal information about said individual. Usually it's just general stuff: age, location, job, etc. But there is one other box that has an immeasurable power. It is the "single/in a relationship" box. In reality, it's nothing more than a person telling the world if they're dating someone or not. But in this modern era of cyber-mindfuckery, that box has the ability to profoundly impact another person's life. Irrationally and ludicrously, of course. But it cannot be denied; that box can destroy a man.

I'm as guilty as the next guy (well, maybe not one guy that I talked to recently, who suffers from this syndrome more deeply than anyone I've encountered in my studies). I'll be frank with you people, because that's the kind of guy that I am. Just before Christmas, I had a particularly strong wave of yearning for The Prettiest Girl in the World (for those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, let's just say this is that person who you thought you were going to marry, but then it ended and left you dazed and confused and dazeder and confuseder). Anyway, I had reached a healthy enough place in my life where I hadn't bothered to cyber-stalk her in quite some time (by cyber-stalking, I mean checking her MySpace page to see where she was, what she was up to, and, of course, if she was still "in a relationship"). But when this recent wave struck, I did what any weak, pathetic, lonely loser would do: I visited her page. Only when I got there, something had changed. The "in a relationship" box had changed to "single." Which led my eyes to the other side of the page, where I discovered that her number one MySpace friend (aka, The Boyfriend) was nowhere to be found. Oh, glorious world! Oh, life of gleaming potential! Oh, cyber-land of infinite possibilities! Who needs Lotto?! Who needs the Stanley Cup?! Who needs sushi?! Who needs anything when I've got her!!!

Only I didn't have her. I didn't have anything. I simply had the awareness of a virtual box that used to say "in a relationship" and now said "single." That's all I had. But let us not crush my dreams just yet, dear reader. Let us accompany this poor, unfortunate soul into a deep, dark pit of further humiliation and see where that gets him.

From MySpace, I hopped on over to her Flickr page to begin an even more pathetic, lowly level of cyber-stalking (or should i say cyber-drooling?). There she was, smiling and happy, enjoying the holidays with her family back home, on a coast many, many miles away.

For days, I wandered around, lost in an infinitely unfurling web of speculation: had she moved back there permanently? Was she really broken up with her seemingly permanent boyfriend? Had this recent breakup caused her to think about me? I imagined the moment when she would come to her senses and contact me once again, assuring me that I was, in fact, The One For Her, and that the world wouldn't be able to breathe freely until we gave things a legitimate try. That would happen at any given moment; I was sure of it. Her box did say "single," after all. I mean, sheesh. And so I wandered around in a cloudy haze, a foggy daze, spending every single moment thinking about her and creating a fantasy world in which we were perfectly together.

Fortunately, this didn't happen for too long. When I brought it up to a friend and he confirmed that he had been playing the same lowly game, something triggered inside me and I was able to step outside of the situation and begin to see it objectively, from an outsider's perspective, the way most of you are probably seeing it now (I hope some of you will still talk to me next time I see you). The reality was that these personal profiles have NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYTHING, and to pretend that they do is shameful, degrading behavior. I know we're all weak souls who just want to be loved--especially by the one that we most want--but it is unhealthy and dangerous and wrong to give in to this cyber-stalking temptation.

I'm pleased to report that I haven't visited any of her pages in quite a while, and I don't plan to. That train won't take me anywhere, except Insecurity City, Sad Town, and Lonelyville. If she wants me, she knows where to find me. And you know what the weirdest thing is? There is actually a strong chance that she's reading this right now. Which is too discombobulating a concept to seriously consider. But if you are reading this, Prettiest Girl in the World, please stop cyber-stalking me. It will get you nowhere. A phone call, on the other hand... wait, there I go again, wishing away on an impossible star.

Okay, I'm glad I got that off my chest. Time to edit now...

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