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Politics

Why I'm Thankful for Social Media Stalking

How Facebook Likes saved me from a lifetime of the Alt-Right Movement

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Why I'm Thankful for Social Media Stalking

In a world powered by technology, it is easy to feel like we know someone before we even meet them. I could tell you fifteen facts off the top of my head about Chrissy Teigen that I have learned from her Instagram and Twitter presences and I am pretty sure our paths will never cross. Every time I think about how social media shapes our society, I think of the How I Met Your Mother episode where Ted decides not to look up his date before he meets her. He can't go through with it and instead finds out everything about her, unable to separate what he reads online from the person that sits in front of him.


Lately, I have been really trying to use social media less. I have become what I call a mindless user - I scroll through Instagram and Twitter and Facebook and Snapchat without a second thought and, before knowing it, six hours have passed and I am on my neighbor's cousin's ex-girlfriend's page, learning where she went to college. This is a problem for many reasons: my eyes hurt, my hand is sore from supporting my phone's weight, and I have a specific knowledge of complete strangers and their lives. Besides telling someone what color nail polish the girl that lived four blocks away from me wore on her 18th birthday, this did very little for me in terms of being at all useful.

Driving in the car one day to visit my brother at college, a boy followed me on Instagram. I know how chivalry works, so I followed him back and then started to stalk my way through, absorbing what I could from his generic posts about loving nature and his snowmobile. Ten minutes later, I found out he loved country music, his dog and his family. And then, I did what any twenty-first century girl who knows what she wants did. I slid into those DM's.

We started "talking" (my parents would have been proud that I put that in quotes, because every time I say I talked to someone, they give me a look that means "correct that and say you texted them, Sarah". You're welcome, Mom and Dad) and hit it right off, as well as two strangers talking over Instagram direct message could. He was passionate about photography, walking his dog and spending time with his family. I had a VSCO, liked petting puppies and could deal with my parents for periods of time. I started drawing up the wedding invitations in my head as I typed "hahahah" to his stupid joke. We were perfect for each other.

The two of us decided to meet up for real and further explore this beautiful connection. One day after school, I walked up to a coffee shop in town, where the smell of roasting coffee beans and baked goods would provide the background scents for our date.

He was perfect. He was funny. He was polite. He was sweet. He had beautiful blue eyes that twinkled. He admitted to being nervous as I watched his hands shake. This was a good fit, I thought to myself. We talked for over an hour, the conversation flowing beautifully as he told me about his siblings, his grandparents, the way he couldn't pay attention in Economics class. I told him about my clumsiness, my love for dancing, my urge to always pet cats I saw, wherever they may be.

Everything was going along swimmingly until I channeled my inner forty-year old suburban mother waiting at a doctor's office. I did the unthinkable: I went on his Facebook and clicked on the "Likes" tab. I know, I know. The Facebook app on my phone is my Achilles' Heel; it is so easy to just scroll through, save Buzzfeed links about products I should buy on Amazon and watch Refinery29 videos featuring weird beauty items. It is also the absolute best place to do your internet stalking, because it contains people at their worst: their 12 year-old self who lied about their age to get an account and posted waaaaay too much. I can't help it, Facebook stalking is my adrenaline in life.

So far, he was doing well. I saw he had liked several restaurants in the area - check for supporting local businesses. He was a fan of Target - CHECK. I love Target like a woman trying to regain her youth loves dating younger men and dying her hair with Garnier Fructis products. He was...a Sarah Palin supporter? Not a complete issue, maybe it was the Tina Fey rendition from her Saturday Night skits. I continued to scroll, trying to keep an open mind. In his likes was a page called "Take Back America". Take back America from what, white, blue eyed privileged boy? This could've just been a mistake, I thought. Like when Ted Cruz accidentally liked that porn video on Twitter. Ich, comparing boys I liked to Ted Cruz was not my greatest moment.

Then all at once, disaster struck. Right after "Knox Farm Dog Park" was a series of terrifyingly orange pictures that blinded me. "Donald Trump for New York" one read, "Donald Trump for America", "Make America Great Again", "White Power" "2nd Amendment Rights". The list went on and on, and the more I read, the more I felt sick to my stomach.

I let this news sit for a few days. Could I be with someone whose views were so fundamentally different from mine? Let alone political view...could I date a person who had completely opposite morals?

The answer, I soon discovered, was no. Although he wasn't Donald Trump himself, I decided for myself that someone who was so fiercely supportive of a man who believed in white power, anti-immigration, anti-women's rights was not the kind of person for me. I could not thank Facebook enough for saving me from a wedding where my wedding veil would be a white hood and the groomsmen would walk down the aisle holding red, black and white flags. Thanks, Mark Zuckerberg, this one's for you.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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