All The People I Can't Stop Hate Stalking

I think just about everyone’s done it, although most won’t admit to it.

Usually it’s someone you know vaguely; a casual acquaintance, a friend of a friend, a business rival or if you’re feeling a bit retro, someone you went to school with. I’m talking about the Hate Stalk; when you stalk someone’s social media for your own malevolent pleasure.

The object of your non-affection might be someone you’re jealous of, you might be searching for the cracks in the glossy social media façade of your frenemy or they might be a car-crash of self-absorption that you just can’t look away from (I would never be that desperate for attention, I smugly tell myself as I carefully edit all my selfies to have perfect skin).

Let's see what you got up to today, Irene. (Image: Getty)

It’s a bad habit, but unlike picking your nose or chewing your fingernails it is very much online only, so other people are less likely to catch you indulging in your dirty pastime. Of course if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it properly. This is more than just a furtive squiz at their Facebook. You need to inspect all the socials as well as LinkedIn (my, what a nice career you have there…) so you can accurately assess how amazing this person’s life really is.

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Hot tip -- many people have their Facebook settings on private but forget to do the same with their Instagram. You’re welcome. For someone who is essentially computer illiterate, it's scary how easily I can track down someone’s social media with only the bare minimum of details. I can’t even figure out how to illegally download movies, yet I’m right up there with Google in terms of being able to get someone’s personal information. Just beware -- the accidental finger slip that could have you liking a post from 2015.

Ah sh*t. (Image: Getty)

There is nothing friendly in the hate stalk -- it is conducted with malicious intent and is probably bad for your karma. Yet it’s just so satisfying, how can something that feels this good be wrong? There’s that person who always feels the need to post pics with the expensive car that isn’t theirs, fancy handbags or the ‘bought a house’ post, even though you know their parents practically handed it to them on a silver platter.

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There’s the sickeningly lovey-dovey couple that are constantly posting about each other, vomit-inducing cutesy pet names included (being a terrible person I’m always routing for a public break up over social media -- unlike tidying up, that’s something that will definitely spark some joy in me).

#mySnuggluffagus. (Image: Getty)

There’s the person who is always posting travel pics (#wanderlust), even though you know they were back from their one week trip to Bali months ago.

#wanderlust. (Image: Getty)

And the total narcissist who posts constant selfies (sometimes accompanied with inspirational quotes or deep musings), usually so heavily edited they are almost impossible to recognize IRL. Bonus points if you have screenshotted any of these to send to a friend. Hate stalking brings people together!

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... (Image: Getty)

I do wonder what people think if they stalk me (of course the real, much deeper fear… what if no one stalks me at all?). I have an innate desire to make people think I’m living an interesting and full life, instead of lying on the couch watching a movie that only got seven percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

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Are people judging me for the amount of dog pics I post? My carefully curated selfies are few and far between so that I don’t look self-obsessed, even though I spend plenty of time obsessing about them (and even more time forcing my husband to take ‘candid’ photos).

Don't take a candid now, honey. (Image: Getty)

And if I don’t get validation from getting enough likes in an appropriate time frame, I may even take my post down from the sheer shame of it. I failed the internet.

I know several people who have deleted social media and are much happier for it. I know that I should at the very least get the apps off my phone… there’s just a couple of profiles I need to peruse first….