The line with social media stalking.

You told yourself you’d go to sleep at 10. Now its 2 AM and you’re 2008 deep into your ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend’s younger brother’s Facebook posts. Your eyelids start to droop; your thumb begins to tire and it’s only the pure adrenaline of one slip away from a like that sustains you. Maybe your brain even unhelpfully supplies scenarios where you commit the ultimate stalking mistake –the accidental share. Once that happens, you can only look down at your shaking hands, at the carnage you’ve caused, and think – how did it ever come to this? All that’s left is to wait for the inevitable nuclear war with North Korea because your social status is already dead. Goodbye, Insta-fame.

For those of us whose careers in social media stalking continue, it’s become a really acceptable part of life. Whether it’s because you want to make sure your tinder match isn’t a creep, find out if the girl your friend likes are hot or see if your ex is miserable without you – pretty much everyone has a quick stalk now and then. On multiple occasions, new friends have messaged me and openly admitted to stalking my profile after I accepted their request. It’s definitely the done thing and people aren’t afraid to admit it.

But can there be times where stalking someone on social media crosses the line into not-okay territory?

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Cyberstalking is a crime in Australia, and although a regular peek at your ex-boyfriend’s Instagram likes doesn’t make you a proper criminal, if someone’s repeatedly contacting you on social media in a way that makes you feel threatened and uncomfortable that definitely crosses the line! It’s always good to know what your rights are in this kind of situation and don’t be afraid to ask for help, but of course, the first step you can take is hitting that block button!

While that line might be clear, there’s a lot of things that can be less transparent on the stalking scale – and not just harmful to the person you’re keeping tabs on, but harmful to you too.

If you love Aubrey Plaza, you might have heard about Ingrid Goes West, a movie where she becomes obsessed with this woman who has the ‘perfect life’ on Instagram so she literally moves across the country and steals her dog in order to engineer them becoming buds. That’s real extreme – but it’s easier than you might think to become obsessed with the lives of ‘influencers’ whether it’s Kylie Jenner or a girl from uni with 10K followers, buying what they wear or eating where they eat (although in Perth you’re probably just obsessed with good brunch, like literally everyone else).

If you wanted, you could literally know where a friend or partner was every second of the day.

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Whether it’s someone you know or someone you don’t, spending more time stalking what other people are doing online rather than doing the numerous other things that could be doing isn’t a healthy habit. In fact, a study in the journal of Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking found that regularly ‘stalking’ a partner on social media after a distressing break-up can be really unhealthy and enable obsessive and dependent behavior, as well as making it harder to move on.

Social media sites aren’t making it easier for us though. Responding to consumer demand, Instagram and Facebook have both unveiled the story functions (tbh no one’s using that FB one tho lmao) which means that across those and Snapchat we’re seeing what our friends are doing often you actually have to put in more effort not to know what they’re up to. And while location Facebook and Instagram had the OG location tagging function, Snapmaps takes it to a whole new level. If you wanted, you could literally know where a friend or romantic partner was every second of the day.

Ultimately, stalking someone on social media is usually harmless. It can give you lots of useful information: like when you accidentally forget someone’s name you met but you know their friends, or you want to know if someone’s single. But it’s too easy to be blasé about the fact that it’s only getting easier for someone to find out information about you from your social media. Sure, posting a few photos is harmless, but what happens if someone pieces all that information together?

Will they know something about you that you’d rather they didn’t?

 

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Words: Georgia Renee

 

 

Searching for Mike

As far as we knew nobody had seen Mike Macduff for decades. I’d heard wild stories about him in my childhood because he went to school with my dad. Nobody knew if he was alive or dead, (but it wouldn’t surprise anybody if he was.) I decided to track him down.

Mike was apparently very clever. His classmates were a bit wary of him because they knew he could make the people around him do what he wanted like a skilled chess player.

Mike was the type of kid who’s so clever they get bored by school. By All accounts Mike’s school did not cater for smart people; rather it was intended to train young men to take over the British Empire. It has been described as a place designed to make a young man capable of going out to east Africa and taking over a patch of land from the last guy. The graduate would then keep watch over her majesty’s interests and make sure the natives behaved until the next guy came along.

Legend had it that Mike had been on an international school trip. He had a packet of cigarettes he knew would be found at airport customs- where they’d be confiscated as he was a minor. Mike’s plan had been to get caught smoking in front of the teacher on purpose. The teacher confiscated the cigarettes, put them in his pocket and walked them through customs. All Mike had to do was lift the cigarettes out of the teacher’s pocket once they were through security.

Supposedly there was a teacher at Mike’s school who would walk up to boys in class and touch their legs while they sat working in silence. Mike’s solution was to position a ping pong ball in his shorts. When they teacher came in for a feel, the ping pong ball was dislodged. It fell to the floor with a clatter, breaking the silence of the classroom. The other students turned in their seats to investigate the noise only to find the teacher in a compromising position.

How was I going to find this guy? His friends hadn’t seen him, but they did know his family came from an area of Scotland called Black Isle. (Black Isle is extremely remote and its local dialect died out in 2012.) The nearest civilisation to Mike’s family home is a village called Munlochy. I did some digging. Munlochy has a village Facebook page. I posted an ad on the Facebook page asking, “Do the MacDuff family still live in these parts? Has anybody kept in touch with them?” 

Some time later I got an email from a local who’d seen my ad. No, the Macduff’s had moved out years ago, but there was a lady who had lived in the area for decades. She might know something.

The lady had kept in touch with Mike’s brother who me in touch with Mike. As it turned out he was in France “working with fruit” (whatever the hell means.)