Sure, the term “stalk” sounds completely negative – there aren’t too many positive connotations to be found. But let’s get real, here: Who isn’t guilty of checking out our romantic interests via social media? And what good is Facebook if we can’t peek into the lives of our exes every once in awhile?
To keep your dignity, know your limits and remember that you shouldn’t be creepy. I mean, you are creepy, but at least you know it. Try to temper the crazy slightly, though – for example, even if you see a picture of your ex-love looking cozy with a thin blonde at a New Year’s Eve party, it doesn’t necessarily mean they hooked up — nor should you try and figure out where this potential stranger lives (even though I know you will).
The Basic Steps:
1. If you have access to his profile, check out everything he’s made visible. If his profile is public, go nuts – he obviously is if his stuff isn’t set to ‘friends only’. I mean, it’s 2015. He has to know about privacy settings by now, right? Facebook came out about a billion years ago, and I don’t think it’s going anywhere. Get in the game, ex.
2. Check out your mutuals. If you’re searching for the dude your coworker decided to set you up with this Saturday, ditch the “blind” in blind date, and totally scope him out beforehand. See if you have any mutual friends. If you do, think about whether or not you actually like those mutual friends, or if you just friended them out of boredom. If any of these mutuals ever wore one of those black shirts with the flame design and considers Guy Fieri an actual chef, you might want to cancel ahead of time. See? You’ve figured out his personality before you even had to leave the house.
3. Go to Google. Type his name in quotes, and see what comes up. Obviously a “John Smith” will be a lot harder to find than “River Fantalamiglia”, so you’re in luck if he’s got a weird name. (For the record, I don’t personally know anyone named River Fantalamiglia. Yet.) The boring stuff will be about how he scored a goal in a high school soccer game. The interesting information will be court documents. The really interesting stuff will be something you’ll probably need to call the police about.
The Advanced Steps:
4. Use Google’s “search by image” feature for online dates. This is how Nev Schulman catches most of his catfish. Take that profile image and make sure it’s not lifted from some weird MySpace page of a failed, foreign boy band. Stalking is definitely a smart move in this case.
5. Check Facebook’s graph search. Freaked out that your ex boyfriend stole all of your mutual friends, and they didn’t invite you to the party? If you’re paranoid/want to ruin your day, you can try Facebook’s graph search. To better define the terrors of the graph search, imagine typing in “River Fantalamiglia on Christmas” and getting to view images of River and his poor family members who never got the chance to see how down to earth you are. This function lets you see tags that might not appear on their wall, which is, as mentioned above, the advanced level of stalk and probably something you should mention to your therapist.
6. Take the information you used from your Google search one step further. Remember Step #3? If you want to go above and beyond, try to search by individual details you find. If he went to Florida State, see if you can access their newspapers. It’s possible he was quoted in some story about how they renamed their gymnasium or something.
The Downright Terrifying Steps:
7. Find his family on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You saw his family’s Christmas photos — might as well see what they’re like, right? Interesting. River has a younger sister whose a big fan of Drake. Maybe you should figure out where she hangs out after school, wear a Drake shirt, and hope she comments on it. From there, you can ask if her brother is seeing anyone. Does Drake even have a lot of tour shirts? Well, you’re desperate — and have a bunch of old puff paint in case you need to DIY.
8. Find out where he works, and call for his schedule. I mean, if he didn’t want people to know, he wouldn’t have put it on there, right? If he’s not working a typical 9-to-5, call to see when he’ll be in next. I mean, dropping in on someone while they’re in their professional environment was totally cool when you were a high school sophomore. What changed between then and now? Everything?
9. Search every dating site for his typical online handle. When people find a handle, they typically stick with it. It usually means they’re too lazy to get creative, or they’ve settled on the identity of “MooNDragoN69”. How does he describe himself in his profiles? Is he accurate? Does he mention you?
Then, take it to the next level. Create your own profile (maybe under “MooNUniCorn7”, so it’ll get his attention) and chat with him under the alias. See if he uses the same techniques he used to land you, and make sure to ask him what went wrong in his last relationships. Hopefully he won’t say anything like, “my ex-girlfriend stalked my sister at the pizza parlor”, or “I’m pretty sure my private photo of my family is her computer desktop image.” If he does, obviously you’re not too great at this.
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