Ione Stevens obtained her bachelor's degree in English in 2016. She is now a library assistant for Stratford University.
"I have hate-stalked someone and I'm extremely ashamed of it..."
Social media allows a person to share about themselves to everyone they are friends with. Some people prefer just letting everyone (including those they're not friends with) see what they post. Honestly, it's whatever floats your boat!
I'm not here to speak ill of social media. I have an account with Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Pinterest. This may sound like a lot to keep up with, but in all honesty, I spend more time on Facebook and Pinterest. Lately, I've been trying to get back into Instagram and Snapchat. As for Twitter, I can't remember the last time I posted a tweet! All that aside, these networks were designed for people to be able to connect with others. I seriously believe that they were created as way to share our thoughts, opinions, pictures, and videos. Some even become online friends. Personally, I like social media for all of those reasons and more. I like being able to see my family that live states away. I like being able to see pictures and statuses of my friends. Social media has become a way of keeping in touch with those I don't get to see very often.
Despite all the positive factors of having a social media account, conflicts may arise and the hate-stalking will begin before you even realize it. I'm going to be bluntly honest with you, which is something (as you know) I'm not afraid of doing. I have hate-stalked someone and I'm extremely ashamed of it. Like I said, I didn't realize what I was doing until I questioned myself aloud: "Why am I doing this? What's the point?"
"Even though we were not on speaking terms, I found myself looking for her posts in my Newsfeed."
The thing about hate-stalking is how quickly you fall into it and how surprised you are when you finally realize you're doing it. I'm not going to point fingers because I'm sure that this doesn't apply to EVERYONE on social media networks. I'm not going to encourage the whole world to ADMIT they have done it. However, I will tell you my experience with hate-stalking and how I defeated the urge.
First, I need to explain how it started:
As a new mother, I had made a new friend (who was also pregnant). All was going well until a few red flags rose within one of our Facebook conversations. I'm not one to take my intuition lightly, so I slowly began to take a step back.
I strongly believe it all started after a genuine comment I made on one of her pictures. She began to strongly defend herself and the picture. Right then, I knew that maybe I shouldn't have said what I said. Even though I was just speaking kindly in a 'mother to mother' approach, I probably should have stayed silent. However, how was I supposed to know that my sincere comment would turn into a massive misunderstanding? All in all, the conversation ended when I chose not to respond to her defensiveness. It became clear that no matter what I said it would be taken the wrong way. So I stepped back completely.
The thing about being a new mother in social media is how you're going to be surrounded by new mothers. We all have different views on parenting methods and our babies are all uniquely special in their own way. After the misunderstanding died down, I began to notice competitive posts popping up on Facebook. Personally, I don't have a competitive bone in my body. Shoot, I did sideline cheerleading one year in high school. I got in thinking it wouldn't be a competition, but I was wrong. All sports are competitive, even cheerleading. This is why I only did it one year! The posts I'm referring to were related to breastfeeding, potty training, motor skills, and all the other wonderful aspects of being a mother. Although my son was one month older than her child, her posts were constant and consistent to give the appearance that she was winning at motherhood. For example, if I posted that my son took his first steps, she would post about her child 'already walking'. Small things like that were highly noticeable to the point of mutual friends and family questioning me about it. I was happy that I wasn't the only one seeing this competitive streak she had going, but that doesn't mean I liked it.
Even though I didn't like it, I did feel somewhat flattered. We're all human! If our intuition tells us that someone is trying to out do you, we can't help but feel good about ourselves. It's a totally natural way of accepting their behavior!
This is where I began the hate-stalking. Even though we were not on speaking terms, I found myself looking for her posts in my Newsfeed. In a way, her competitiveness made me feel good about myself as a woman and definitely as a mother. So, as you would guess, I was looking for that feeling every time I got on Facebook. Looking back at it now, I can definitely see where I went wrong. It got to the point where I was relying on her posts to make me feel good about myself. This was so wrong on so many levels.
Even though I didn't like her or her behavior, she was intriguing to me and I just couldn't look away. After some time went by, I began to notice my patterns. Not long after, we got into a verbal argument over Facebook messaging. Her claims were that I was competing against her, instead of the other way around... At that point, I knew what I had to do. So I said what I needed to say, wished her and her family well, and unfriended her.
"I don't feel like I 'need' anyone to verify that I'm doing good with my life."
After removing her from my friend's list, I learned a lot about how to make myself happy. I learned that you do not need someone's approval OR their disapproval to feel good about yourself. Now, when I scroll through my Newsfeed, I'm looking at positive posts from family and friends. It makes me happy to see their happiness. I don't see competition or pettiness. I don't feel like I 'need' anyone to verify that I'm doing good with my life. All in all, there is a great sense of freedom that comes with shutting out all negativity!
Now, there were a couple of times where we tried to make amends and start anew. I'm all for second chances and trying to establish a good friendship. However, each time led to the same disappointing result: the clicking of the unfriend button. I never hate-stalked her after the first time and I'm extremely proud of myself for not creating a destructive pattern. I've heard of people creating fake accounts to cyber stalk someone who blocked them. I've heard of people using their friend's account to see what another person is posting. I would never judge a person who takes the hate-stalking this far, but please know that you're only hurting yourself. You don't need someone else to make you feel good about yourself. You can do that all on your own!
"You have the power to control how others affect you"
And now the biggest question of all: Why do we hate-stalk?
There are multiple reasons as to why you are captivated by someone you have no interest in knowing. Most people claim it to be jealousy, which could possibly be an explanation. Ask yourself if they have something you do not have. If you find it, then ask yourself if that bothers you. This is the best way (in my opinion) to determine if you're jealous of them. If what they have bothers you, then do something about it. Step away from the screen and make it happen for yourself!
Maybe you're like me and they make you feel good about yourself. If this is the case, why does this person make you feel good? What do they say and do that boosts your ego? Whatever it may be, it's time to reevaluate HOW you feel good about yourself. Relying on others to do that for you is unhealthy and it can lead to disruptions in other relationships. Needing verification that you're awesome from someone you don't like is pointless. You're already awesome! You can feel good about that WITHOUT checking their page!
Another reason might be that you just want to be liked. Seeking approval from others always leads to disappointment. So, if you constantly check their statuses and try to figure out if they are referring to you in a passive aggressive way, ask yourself if it really matters. It really shouldn't matter what they think of you, good or bad. So what if their post was taking a stab at you? If you choose to ignore it and eliminate their negativity, then you have the upper hand. You have the power to control how others affect you. Ask yourself: Will it matter 5 years from now? If the answer is no, then do yourself a favor and delete them. Save yourself the stress!
© 2018 IoneLynne
Aneya Sabahuddin on March 21, 2018: