It has come to my attention that there is an epidemic of insularity sweeping across America. The putative cause: Facebook stalking binges. Now, I’m not pointing fingers — we’re all guilty of cyber-crushing on a couple dozen unwitting acquaintances with absolutely no intention of actually pursuing any kind of relationship with those people in the flesh.
Show of figuratively bloodied hands: how many times have you been late for something this week because you got sucked into the vacuum of a proper Facebook stalking binge? Better yet, how many profile picture albums have you committed — frame by frame — to memory? And when was the last time you even talked to that girl/boy whose swimwear collection you know more intimately than your own?
Enough already! Your digital voyeurism will get you nowhere in life. It’s time to cut some of your imaginary girl/boyfriends loose. Or reach out to them. Anything but a perpetuation of the status quo because, frankly, it’s more than a little creepy that you spend an hour a week fantasizing about someone you haven’t seen in five years.
So let’s take a look at the 10 people we all stalk on Facebook and decide — once and for all — whether or not you have a chance with any of them.
You know: the one who bored open your chest cavity, removed your heart and rendered it an unidentifiable pulp of blood and memories. The one who went down on someone at a bachelor/-ette party while you stayed home and watched his/her poorly-trained dog. The one who … still looks so good that you sob on your keyboard while browsing old photos of the two of you. Yikes.
Verdict: Unfriend. Poring over old photos is detrimental to your healing process. Obsessing over the implications of new ones (like those pictures of him/her with a mysterious new suitor) even more so.
That Person You Hardly Know Who Has a Hot Bod
This person goes to the beach every weekend. How do you know? Because you lick your lips while checking out his/her scantily clad physique in your cubicle every Monday morning.
Verdict: Dude(-tte), stop creeping. Your half-naked crush doesn’t even live in the same area code as you. If you ever run into one another again, by all means, throw some game his/her way. But until then, turn your attention to someone who exists in three dimensions.
The Girl/Boy from Your Childhood Who Unexpectedly Blossomed
Remember that person you all picked on in grade school who got fed up and went away to boarding school? Well, joke’s on you. That person is, like, super attractive now. And conveniently resides nearby.
Verdict: High time for a reconnection project. Send a message that mentions “catching up,” “getting some drinks” and some innocuous “remember when …” Try not to express your interest too overtly. And avoid stories in which your crush was the victim of some cruel prank altogether.
Your Best Friend’s Younger Sibling
… grew up. Into a serious swan. You spend an hour a week vicariously attending frat parties and tailgates by his/her side.
Verdict: First you need to seek out your friend’s blessing. If approved, proceed to the younger sibling, but tread lightly. No friendship is worth the reckless fulfillment of your digital fantasies.
That Person with Weak Security Settings that You Don’t Even Know
This = the peak of creep.
Verdict: STOP. Why are you wasting precious minutes of your day salivating over images of someone you don’t even know? There’s porn for that.
The Ex Before Your Ex
Wow. He/she looks good. The “timing was just a little off before,” “people change,” “time heals all wounds,” etc. These are the little justifications you repeat over and over in your head as you try to determine whether or not that person she/he has recently posed with represents a legitimate threat to your potentially rekindled romance.
Verdict: Go for it, assuming your grudges have been properly buried.
That Person You’ve Secretly Been in Love with For as Long as You Can Remember
Still clinging to the memory of that time you two slow-danced at junior prom? Or secreting away a note that he/she passed you in sixth grade? Or succumbing to painful pangs of jealousy every time you see a new suitor in his/her profile pic? Aren’t we all?
Verdict: You’ve been relegated to the Friendzone for far too long. Time to declare your intentions. A word of warning: if the feelings were mutual, there’s a good chance they would have been acted upon by now, so temper your expectations. But you’ll never live down the regret of hiding your love away all those years as you watch him/her say “I do” to someone not named you in the near future. The worst that happens is your friendship goes icy for a while. Fear not; such awkwardness is usually temporary.
Your Best Friend’s Attractive Significant Other
I bet you browse this person’s photo albums under lock and key, considering he/she is in a serious relationship with YOUR FREAKING BFF. Et tu, Brute?
Verdict: Umm … delete history, perhaps? And then never do it again. And then reset your moral compass; it’s not functioning properly at present.
That Random Hookup Who Friend-ed You Afterward
Let me get this straight: you hooked up, he/she “friend”-ed you and now you routinely lust after this person via discursive photo album investigations?
Verdict: Time to get over your shyness. That “friend”-ing was basically an invitation to go out again. If the hookup in question didn’t want to see you, why would he/she have reached out? Bearing the intimate details that attend a Facebook profile, no less. Send greetings immediately, with an eye to hanging out before the week is up.
That Girl/Guy You “Met” Online But Are Yet to Actually … Meet
Seriously? You guys added one another on Facebook before even meeting? That qualifies as amateurish online dating etiquette for this correspondent’s money. You really shouldn’t be Facebooking your dates at all until some semblance of steadiness is established. Otherwise you end up with some bad date popping up in your Newsfeed all the time. And probably stalking you on the reg.
Verdict: Well, the harm has been done, so really the only advice I can give you is to stop doing the online rope-a-dope thing and go out with him/her already. Refer to the HowAboutWe motto: “Chemistry Happens Offline.”