This morning I stumbled upon an article that stated with complete conviction that eight years after the introduction of the social networking giant that is Facebook, most of us are primarily using the invaluable internet tool to spy on friends – particularly past loves.
It’s true that without Facebook, most of us would probably never get a chance to see what ever happened to our high school ‘friends’, where they’re holiday-ing this year, whether they’ve stepped their relationships up a notch and are now ‘engaged’, or if they’ve been hanging out anywhere cool lately. That said, who cares what they’re all up to. What we really want to know is what our exes are doing and if there’s any self-satisfying indication that they haven’t managed to fill the gaping hole left by our departure. In this way it can also be the biggest ego-buster and probably not so good for your mental health if you’re confronted with him or her on expensive beach get-aways with an impossibly attractive partner who has already been on the receiving end of nauseatingly frequent virtual displays of affection.
What the Experts say
A study conducted by Veronika Lukacs from the University of Western Ontario, Canada, suggests that 48% of ex-couples remained ‘friends’ post break-up – probably so they can keep tabs on their ex’s social activity. A staggering 88% of these people ‘stalked’ their exes and 70% of those who were hasty in de-friending their ex went on to use a mutual friend’s profile to carry out their surreptitious surveillance. Not good news, according to Lukacs, “The more surveillance there was, the more distress there was…” The 107 individuals questioned were between 18 and 35, had been through a break-up in the past year and were also varied enough in age range and occupation to make the study as conclusive as possible. To Lukacs’ surprise, “…this issue wasn’t necessarily just a young person thing. These are people who are really educated.” To prove this point – a 26 year old male lawyer who participated in the study admitted to hacking into his girlfriend’s profile to confirm his suspicions that she had happily moved on. This was not only illegal but ultimately quite painful for the young lawyer, none the less he ‘couldn’t stop himself’, which is the reason cited for most of this creepy cyber-stalking.
I cannot tell a lie – I myself have fallen victim to the kind of unhealthy, uncontrollable curiosity that would cause someone to look through entire albums of one’s ex, their new girlfriend, their dinner parties, holidays and new home – or something to that effect. Despite evidence that I am by far not the only one indulging my creepiness, I still feel shame. Lukacs explains that the only way to put an end to this damaging behaviour is to curb all temptation by de-friending your ex and keeping it that way. Lukacs says of a former room mate who stalked her ex-boyfriend – “She went through this really tough period of wanting to see what he was up to on Facebook all the time. Then, she decided it was too hard, so she deleted him. Then, when she thought she was feeling better they became [Facebook] friends again. She sort of went through the same thing again.”