The Origin of Cyber Stalking

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Nice Move

Throwback Thursday: The Origin of Cyber Stalking

In today’s world of technological convenience, you’re an idiot if you don’t run a thorough background check on every single guy you have even the slightest interest in. We all know the steps are as varied as they are thorough. First, you Facebook stalk, and then you stalk his Twitter, and then you do the casual LuLu check, and then you Google him, and then you go on both Zillow and Trulia to assess all of the properties his family owns. It’s casual, and it’s pretty simple seeing as how it can all be done during your 11:00 AM lecture, or while you’re getting a pedicure. God, I love technology. I think the semi-intimate details of the object of our affection’s life are so easily accessible it’s possible to forget a simpler time, when stalking wasn’t quite as easy as finding a mutual friend on Facebook to lend you her password while you scour your new not-boyfriend’s profile.

Last week, I was getting wine drunk by myself instead of studying for finals, when I decided to push myself further into the rabbit hole of self loathing by watching one of my all time favorite romantic comedys Sleepless in Seattle. I generally tend to watch SIS when I’m in need of a good cry, or when I need to remember that no matter how bad I’m feeling, I never had to go to college during the ’90s, when fashion was at its absolute worst. I will always maintain it’s the best movie ever, but I realized another aspect of the film that makes it so epic: Annie’s amazing stalking ability.

Listen, it was the ’90s. People weren’t flooding social media with status updates about backing into their neighbor’s mailboxes or getting a new job. You couldn’t just type in an ex’s name in the search bar of Zuckerberg’s great contribution to society and judge the engagement pictures he and his fugly new fiancé took the week prior. If you wanted to stalk in the ’90s, you had to have an elite set of skills, and Meg Ryan’s character knew exactly what to do.

For those of you who need a quick refresher, Meg Ryan played Annie, the hopeless romantic journalist who was stuck in a shitty, ring-less engagement to the most boring man alive. She fell in love with Sam, an overnight radio sensation from Seattle just from the sound of his voice. Even though she was positive this man, whom she’d never actually had a conversation with, was her soulmate, Annie did some digging, because she’s a serious journalist and didn’t want to risk getting Catfished. This would be a simple task in today’s day and age, but in the ’90s, Annie had to get creative.

Because she took her job as a reporter seriously, Annie was able to use a ’90s, MS-DOS style search engine (this was pre-Google), to narrow down her search of the mystery man from Seattle. From there, she determined his profession, and even pulled up his wife’s obituary. Chic. Then, using the guise of “writing a story” Annie used the newspaper’s private investigator to get more information on the object of her affection. Of course, she then went to Seattle and stalked him without saying a word to him, which was the most epic psycho move of all time.

I think people often revere this movie as a story of fated romance, but what they don’t realize is this movie was actually the ultimate tale of a psychotic woman who would stop at nothing to stalk some guy into being her boyfriend. I had a very similar, Meg Ryan-inspired experience recently. I, too, am a journalist. I took a page out of Annie’s newspaper and stalked some guy on Google+ (because I’m an adult), and then Facebook, and then I creeped his Twitter and Spotify accounts until he became my boyfriend. It’s really that easy, girls, and you have Sleepless and Seattle to thank for the how-to manual on cyber-stalking.

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