Kathleen’s Guide to Facebook Stalking

It’s Facebook Official, So It’s Real. Obvi.

By Kathleen French ‘13

We all do it. You first go through all the profile pictures—to see the best they have to offer. Then you scan the recent tags—to see what they really look like. If you have access to it on your phone, may the Lord be with you.

Facebook stalking.

It’s a phenomenon, but also an art. There are some people (myself included) who have perfected this skill to a scarily professional level. I have literally added people I met at a party while still at said party (thank goodness for cellular Wi-Fi). I know the ins, the outs, the in-betweens—you can even call me a Facebook connoisseur.

First steps: see if a) if he is in a relationship, b) which team he plays for, and c) if his profile picture is (or ever was) his avatar from World of Warcraft. If he passes this test with flying colors, there is still one more obstacle: interests. If he lists anything as elementary as “girls, girls, sports, oh yeah, and girls,” then I know it would be a wise idea to run for the hills because his conversation might be as stimulating as one with a dining room table.

Given the knowledge I have acquired through the wealth of my experience, and being the expert and philanthropist that I am, I have decided to become, my dear Harvardians, your stalking sensei. No worries, it’s totes legal.

The Guide:

  1. 1. Profile Pictures

If there are in excess of 40, then there are vanity issues at stake. If you see someone with over 200 profile pictures—just stop. Stop now. No, their physical appearance is irrelevant. They like looking at themselves. And that’s not okay.

  1. 2. Friends

Friends are important. It kind of sucks to watch re-runs of Will & Grace with your dog when you could be out partying with actual, living and breathing human beings.

If this number is less than 60 this means either a) they just joined Facebook and deserve a second chance, b) they, uh, don’t use this very often, which means that you should, uh, not look at it anymore, or c) they don’t have friends. If (c.) is true, I strongly recommend you reconsider your interest.

If you have mutual friends, congratulations! Your friends know this person in real life! Meaning (drum roll please) that the object of your affection actually EXISTS.

  1. 3. Personal Information

Now, this is particularly ambiguous terrain. It’s like jumping into the big kids’ pool without your floaties on for the first time, screaming “Oh, my God. The life instructor is so beautiful, but I’m drowning, and this sucks, and I’m going to submit this scenario to some form of an FML website.” (See http://www.harvardfml.com.)

Anyway, this area of Facebook is difficult to analyze to accurately evaluate a person’s grasp on reality and humanity. But don’t fret, Harvardians, it is possible. We simply have to do some categorizing.


The Minimalists: These people display very little, usually only their email and birthday. The latter serves the primary purpose of making them feel special on the anniversary of the day they emerged from the birth canal by granting them more than 147 notifications. This is a deceptive little tactic, however, because it means that either a) they are the coolest people you will ever meet and don’t need to elaborate on their personalities because it couldn’t ever possibly fit in such a limited space, or b) they have no life. This creates a toss-up of pursuit. These profiles require more complex measures to determine the personality of people in question, via pictures and posts left on their walls. If all (actually, any will suffice) of these posts are from their moms, then I have nothing more to say.

The Braggarts: These list every achievement they have ever attained in high school and college on their personal page and, therefore, use it as a self-aggrandizing résumé to attract people, jobs, fans, etc. If you’re into that, re-evaluate your life.

The Ironic: You’ve hit the jackpot. These are gems of human flesh and bone who list “Religious Views” as something outrageous like “feet.” That’s weird. But I like it. Beware of the hipsters, though. They will steal your clothes and your Tao Lin books. Uncouth.

The Artsy/Profound: Usually these profiles comprise a smorgasbord of artfully listed fragments that claim said person’s interest. This can be done well or dreadfully. Many have tried, and many more have failed:

Fail: “Candlelight on my bedside table as I write with my quill pen… [smiley face emoticon].” Enough said.

WIN: “I enjoy burning old love letters.” Come on. You know you want to watch that go down.

The Musician: They are in a band and they make you very aware of this fact. Link after link after link. But to what, their Myspace page? No. Not okay.

Bands can be sexy, but there is a fine line: only good bands are sexy. Proceed to evaluating his/her musical group’s tracks. If a chipmunk would commit suicide with a Popsicle stick after hearing the first chorus, I recommend you consider sketchily un-friending them. Don’t worry—they probably won’t realize it for a couple months. Facebook is great that way.

The Norm: If none of the above really apply, this one is tricky. They don’t really walk any weird lines, so you have to be cautious. Check out the Facebook groups they’re in. If more than one includes the words “One Million Strong Against/For,” turn and RUN. Why? Because, frankly, it’s annoying. Stop joining those groups. Stop making them. YOUR MICROPOLITICAL ACTION DOES NOT SOLVE ANYTHING.

In addition to the above instructions on perfecting your lives and determining who you ought to love/marry/date/have long walks on the beach with, I must also leave this little nugget of wisdom with you:

For your reading pleasure (as well as my own personal satisfaction), the following is my construct of 22-year-old Eleanor Roosevelt’s Facebook profile, if she lived in good ol’ 2009. SHAMWOW.

Personal Information


Activities: Not being cheated on by FDR, but he still cheats on me. FML. Getting crunk, writing sad poetry, violence, maybe I’ll be a better person later, getting my hair did.

Favorite Music: This kid just friended me on Myspace. His name is Elvis. He’s pretty good, but we’ll see.

Favorite TV Shows: Flavor of Love, Rock of Love, Rock of Love when they’re on the bus—there are just so many diseases! And OMG, that girl shat on the floor! There’s something so gutter-butt about Nibblz.

Favorite Movies: Juno… obviously. Reminds me of two years ago. NBD.

Favorite Books: When things were rough, What To Expect When You’re Expecting was a solid read. Other than that… Twilight. If it weren’t for Franky, I would find myself a vampire. Kinky.

About Me: I had a really bad phase I like to call the “Irish Tea” period, but we do not speak of it. I like the beach and dancing to “Get Low” by Lil’ Jon & the Eastside Boyz. I’m in a committed relationship with this guy who will probably be president one day because he’s fairly intelligent and stuff, but whatever. He caught my eye with that shiny Harvard degree, but he hardly ever texts me back. I have so many feelings.

Now readers, go forth and use your new knowledge wisely. Procrastinate on that paper and tag yourself in 30 pictures. And remember, stalking is never okay. Except when the person in question is unquestionably dreamy. Just kidding.

DISCLAIMER: This article serves as commentary on a social phenomenon popularly known as “Facebook stalking.” The phrase is not a creation of The Voice, nor does The Voice condone or encourage stalking in any form. Just making that crystal clear, you know, given our past. Please, please, don’t feature us again, E! News. At least, not for this.

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