Stalking was an interest (on Facebook)

Facebook made me remove “stalking” as an interest. Or rather, I was becoming aware that friends who didn’t know me…might take that the the wrong way. So I stuck to writing, watching movies, eating as primary interests.

There’s something incredibly compelling about Foursquare, Gowalla and all those other location-based applications.

Back in 2003…or even 2002, I was wary of such things. While at Berkeley, I did research in location-based mobile applications in Friend Friend to Coupon Pusher…I didn’t get it then. But I get it now.

Where the reason why people engage with technologies…it’s more of a broadcast, it’s enlarging the “hey look at me” shout, it’s becoming part of something bigger.

And it allows stalking.

But what’s wrong about stalking? Surely, this story about a woman “stalked” by a man through a phone…isn’t the creepy part? I thought technology is supposed to allow us to get over hurdles, perhaps commit a few social faux pas, but ultimately it’s supposed to allow us to connect better.

Who was that person who said How can you be friends with someone who you never met?

Oh right, that was one of my friends in college.

In 2005, I would read the bios on a department pages at school. Then at a party, I would walk up to someone I recognized…perhaps commit a faux pas in reciting what I read…but then we would talk. It led to two successful friendships.

In the past year when I started using those location-based services…I have yet to use it to connect with people. There was one time when I saw a user’s tip on Foursquare…and thought that it was incredibly insightful…that I went up to the person and thanked them for sharing. I received only a blank stare…not even a smile.

What’s wrong with the sudden jump from the digital world?

Some may point to my request to meet people who tried to add me on Yelp or Facebook…so that I can verify that they are friends. I am still friends with one of them. Many of them were offended that I refused to be friends with them on social networks unless I had determined that they were of friend-able nature in person.

My point is…why can’t we allow those social networks, this technology help us climb over the barrier that is built? Why can’t we make it easier to talk to each other? At least so that I don’t have to suffer here…in this self-built social anxiety.

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