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Social Media Has Ruined Good, Old-Fashioned Stalking

Photograph by Getty Images

One weekend when I was in high school some friends and I met a boy at a party in another city. We became obsessed with this beautiful creature, and spent the next few weeks finding out everything we could about him—where he worked, where he lived, who he hung out with. We did this by the means available to us at the time—mainly the good old trusty phone book and using Slushies and Slim Jims to bribe bits of information out of mutual friends.

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Armed with his home address and his tentative work schedule, we drove to his house one afternoon and parked across the street and waited. Sure enough, less than an hour later our hard work was rewarded—we got to see him walk out of his house, run his hands through his feathered hair, get in his car and drive away. It was the most glorious 45 seconds of our lives, as if Jesus himself had walked among us, if Jesus wore a Members Only jacket and drove a Camaro.

Things are so different now. If my two teen daughters spy a cute boy, within minutes you can bet they’ve already found his profile on Facebook, checked out his Instagram feed and made fun of his Tumblr. They can figure out if he’s single, where he lives and what he had for lunch that day. It’s enough to make me shake my walker at them and wistfully mumble, “Why, back in my day we had to drive 15 miles in the hot sun to stalk our crushes.”

You can’t scream, fog up the windows and spill Tab on each other if you’re checking out a boy on Snapchat.

I’m not making light of stalking. I know it’s a crime punishable by law, and we’re considering an electric fence around our house once the moat gets finished. But I’m just a little sad that the excitement and romance has been taken out of making connections these days, and I blame it on social media. Where’s the thrill of orchestrating your entire schedule so that you can run into that certain someone on the street where he works, or yes—driving to another city just to see the object of your affections take 20 steps to the curb? You can’t scream, fog up the windows and spill Tab on each other if you’re checking out a boy on Snapchat.

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On the other hand, I do find the idea of someone sitting in their car outside of our house trying to check out one of my daughters creepy and alarming. If this happened, I’d probably go full-on Britney Spears and attack the car with my umbrella after shaving my head. But what if between whacks I discovered it was just a couple of boys from school, waiting to catch a glimpse of their crush as they walk to Starbucks? Come to think of it, I would probably still think it was creepy and I’d be yelling, “Why can’t you just message them on Facebook or pore over their Twitter feed like normal people, instead of lurking in your car like a couple of perverts?”

What was I thinking? Thank goodness for social media and its distance it puts between boys and my girls. Fellas, stay in front of your computers and off of my street.

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