Monday, 20 February 2012

Facebook creeping - Just how weird is it?

Facebook creeping is a bit like normal creeping except, y’know, socially acceptable and a bit less weird. It’s joked about, it’s trivialised and it’s thought of as perhaps an integral part of the facebook experience. We all do it too. Once you find out someone’s name, it ain’t their family tree you’re interested in, you go straight to their Facebook profile page. And then, based on his/her privacy settings, your reaction may be something like this…“She left her pictures open to the public? THE FOOL. I shall take advantage of this glorious opportunity. I am now going to exploit her most precious visual memories”.

Once you’ve been on facebook for more than a year, creeping becomes almost a daily chore. You don’t even think about doing it, you might innocently stumble upon someone’s page by way of your newsfeed or the friend list of a friend’s page you’re innocuously interacting with and then BOOM, you’ve cleared half of that person’s photo albums and judged them by their music and film choices. I do without almost thinking. It’s such a brain-sapping, time-wasting activity as well. Sometimes I’m in a mood where I just like looking at people’s page, be they male or female, friend or stranger, attractive or ugly. For a few seconds when I’m creeping their page I become almost intrinsically attached to their lives, sharing the worries they express and wondering how they spent their day. I read their status updates and survey their profile information and make a judgement on that person based on the information I can gather. Quite hollow and superficial I know but natural too. There is no sexual malice in this kind of creeping, it’s more caring creeping.

Then there’s sexy creeping, otherwise known as creepy creeping. It works a little like this:
1. Find attractive girl be it randomly or if you’re lucky, you may be facebook friends with her.
2. PRAY she is lax with her privacy settings.
3A – If she is quite the prune, and her page is more or less closed off, retreat back to the newsfeed. 3B – If her page is as open as the red sea, pat yourself onthe back, thank God or Buddha or whatever and on with the creeping.
 4. After 15 minutes of creeping, log out disgusted with yourself for being such a repugnant and pervy nit.
5. 20 minutes later, wash yourself and repeat all four steps.

The clincher to whether or not you’ll return to her page is if she is ‘In a relationship’. If yes, you may creep once, approbate her attractiveness with a solemn nod, praise her boyfriend for acquiring such a hot piece of booty and be on your way. If she’s not, you may find yourself revisiting her page. And it’s nothing disgusting or malicious. Sometimes us boys like looking at pictures and thinking “Cor… I’d love to sit and watch telly with her”. Honestly. Nothing really sexual (I shouldn’t really call it ‘sexy creeping’ so then, that’s misleading. I’ll stick by the ‘creepy’ part however), just a longing to be loved that we all experience when we’re single and alone and listening to Adele. Like the Blues Brothers sang, everybody needs somebody to love.

Creeping makes you feel all shallow and disgusting. This is only enhanced when Facebook reminds you that you were creeping excessively by way of the search bar. Ah, the search bar. Facebook thinks it’s being all helpful and amiable by suggesting what friend you are searching for based on the letter you have typed in. This is when you are caught in what I like to call, the creep-trap. You type in one letter, the letter ‘H’ for instance and the first person, the most relevant person Facebook can find beginning with the letter ‘H’ is often your creeping victim. “Oh shit”, I often wildly exclaim to myself. I then go through what I call ‘The Five Steps to admitting you have a creeping problem’.

Step 1: Denial – “No fucking way, ah-ah. I’ve gone her page about three times? Maybe four but that was because she linked a video of Arctic Monkeys to her page and I was obliged to research her music tastes. THAT DOESN’T COUNT FACEBOOK”
Step 2: Anger – “FACEBOOK YOU’RE MAKING ME LOOK LIKE A CREEP. What if my girlfriend is on my page and notices how quickly her name comes up on the search bar? Oh that’s right, I haven’t got a girlfriend…. THANKS FOR REMINDING ME FACEBOOK”
Step 3: Bargaining – “Alright Facebook. I’ve heard your side of the story. I’m going to keep visiting the page of my friend who has the same first letter in their name as my supposed (according to stupid Facebook) creeping victim in order to drive said creeping victim down the list of suggestions. That should work.
Step 4: Depression – “I only go on her page a lot because I haven’t got a girlfriend of my own to poke (virtually and physically) and I feel like she could be the next one for me. Don’t judge me Facebook. I’m going listening to Adele….”
Step 5: Acceptance – “Ok, I’m a disgusting human being who could and should be locked up for stalking. But in fairness Facebook, she’s like the LUAS, on-rail.”

Maybe I’ve dissected the whole concept of creeping a little too deeply. Maybe it’s not as complicated as I make it out to be. That’s for you to judge. I can say two things for definite.One, in response to the question I posed in the title, creeping is very weird. Two, creeping is a bit like taking heroin. You feel bad about it, you don’t talk about it, but by Jesus, you’re not going to stop it either.

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