Kirkwood High School student newspaper

I’m a stalker

January 29, 2015

My fingers tap away at the keyboard and spell out his name. With each swirl of the loading icon, my stomach churns with anticipation. Voila! Seventy six results. After scrolling, I see his image and immediately click on it. I flip through his visible profile pictures and begin to feel uneasy. With an increasing amount of stress, I keep gliding through each homecoming group photo, cross country picture and selfie. I nibble at the whites of my nails and think, “Is this too creepy? Am I going too far? Oh my god, what if he finds out?” At that moment, I know. I know who I am. I’m a stalker.

After I characterize myself as a full-blown stalker, memories of other people doing exactly what I’m doing come to my mind. I remember times when my friend looked up the person she was in love with on Google, my other friend typed in the name of an old friend from middle school on Twitter and even my parents searched for their ex-girlfriends and ex-boyfriends on Facebook. Now I know I’m not alone. (Insert number) percent of students at KHS have searched someone on the internet in order to look at their pictures or social media accounts.

Throughout the past couple of years, I have labeled many people as stalkers. People who tell me things about my Facebook profile even when they aren’t friends with me, people who incessantly text me without my response and people who like all of my friends’ posts on social media.

After thinking about this, I realize I’m being a total hypocrite when I say this. I look up people on the internet, look at pictures of people and text people when they never respond to me. (Insert number) percent of KHS students have called someone a stalker, meaning a majority of kids are likely hypocrites like me.

When people label others as stalkers, they actually deem them as someone who is likely more threatening than they actually are. According to the National Institute of Justice, stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person involving repeated visual or physical proximity, nonconsensual communication, or verbal, written, or implied threats, or a combination thereof, that would cause a reasonable person fear.

I wouldn’t want people going through and looking through my pictures, but the moment you put it on social media, it makes it fair game.”

— Aspen Workman

When people post their images on the internet, they should know anyone can see them or search for them. Just like people have the right to search others on the internet and look at pictures associated with that person, people have the right to post and not post images of themselves. People shouldn’t call others stalkers immediately after seeing them ‘like’ a bunch of their Instagram posts at once, since they likely did the same thing once and the person ‘liking’ their pictures will likely not cause them fear for their well-being.

Although searching someone on the internet and looking at their pictures is basically harmless, it can blossom into something dangerous. According to the Tahoe Safe Alliance, cyberstalking involves the pursuit, harassment or contact of others in an unsolicited fashion initially via the internet and email. When people progress to this, they can rightfully be defined as stalkers. The CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found one in six women and one in 19 men have been stalked. Stalking is thus quite common and will likely occur in an average person’s life, but not every person who looks someone up on the internet is a true stalker.

When someone hesitantly types their crush’s name into Google and wearily slides through this person’s profile pictures, the searcher should realize this person has purposefully put his face on the internet for others to see. People aren’t stalkers when doing this; they are just looking at public information. The next time I find out someone has been looking me up online, I will remind myself to not label others as stalkers, since I do the same thing to people all the time.

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