How do you know if someone is stalking your Instagram? The platform has become the only acceptable form of lurking. Exes, old friends, people we love/hate… strangers who live on the opposite side of the world. My Instagram stalking started when a fitness influencer with millions of fans followed me. Feeling startled, I began watching her videos, researching her website and scrolling her feed. If this was reality: major stalker alert! On Instagram though, it’s “normal” behaviour.
Social media promoting Instagram stalking
We’re public figures online – yes you with 100 fans. It doesn’t matter: signing up to online socials lets any person find us. With the exception of private accounts, how do we know who’s checking our lives daily? Most of us are desperate to unearth this loophole – teased through IG story views. And most of us have no desire for a stalker, yet we do everything to encourage people to snoop.
We want people to engage with our photos, watch us live and see where we’re eating and shopping. Instagram stalking is handed to each of us on a platter and temptation calls.
Why do some people have profiles we can’t stop clicking on? Is it really about their fashion sense and fitness advice, or have they mastered the art of photography? Isn’t it weird that to stop our own boredom, we keep up with the creative boredom of others?
Reported in Vulture, Instagram has removed its following activity tab – the ultimate stalking magnet. Thank goodness – surly we don’t need to know who is liking who’s pics at what time? Instagram stalking is something we orchestrate, while equally hoping no “weirdo” discovers us. It’s an activity we try to pretend we don’t do: a creepy obsession we ought to confront.
Exes, old friends and classmates
Haven’t we all at least once, broken up with a partner and stalked their feed? Curious to know if they’ve moved on – not that their account will reveal the truth. Cosmopolitan published a listicle on potential reasons for checking on exes. In addition to clue hunting (trying to analyse what went wrong), the publication suggests we can become jealous looking at an ex’s page, if the ex looks happy.
If their life appears successful and fun since we’ve departed, we may feel an urge to explore what they’re doing. Maybe it’s about our own fragile egos wanting to feel meaningful. When I broke up with my first boyfriend, I kept scrolling his Twitter to figure if he had moved on. Six months later, I one day felt an immediate need to know who he was dating. It’s not just social media and Instagram stalking, some people send random phone messages to exes pretending to casually catch up. In reality, they want to know if they’re still missed.
The same type of checking can be said for old friends. If a friendship was competitive, it’s unsurprising why either may secretly continue comparisons through Instagram stalking. If a life-long best friend ends communication, it’s fascinating to know whose replaced you. (Probably to judge what qualities they share and how you differ).
Researching old classmates is the greatest evaluation checker. Our peers help us decide how well we’re doing. If their lifestyles look perfect – travelling the world wearing designer, we can try to copy or give in to our self-loathing.
Read: Why I Stalk Before a First Date
Another acceptable creepy standard: wasting valuable time hating on a person you’ve most-likely not met. Elle Magazine spoke to a “professor of digital social media” to explain the science. Apparently, it’s not about hating a person. Strong feelings towards an individual can lead to interest which compels you to scan photos of someone you may gossip about. As well as interest, professor Karen North described the intrigue in those who break social norms. Perhaps someone who has no shame in posing half-naked at a busy place.
Bitching typically happens when a person feels envious of another’s lifestyle. Keeping an eye on an “enemy” can help produce criticism, creating a quick cure to resentful thoughts. The other side of Instagram stalking is lurking on the pages of people you wish to emulate. Whether through fitness, career, fashion, wealth or beauty. You can glance at a life path you didn’t follow or one you hope to establish. And amongst that, there’s classic stalking a crush.
Social media crafts virtual reality. Through our own creative storytelling, others believe they know us. While great for online networking, the flip side is an imbalance in how followers feel about each other. I had to block a guy on Instagram for overstepping the mark. Our relaxed conversations developed to needy bombardment and constant thirst for how I’m spending my day. How well do we understand the image we’re fabricating? I don’t believe it’s possible to truly know someone from their online presence.
Instagram stalking – when do we seek help?
If you’re embarrassed and ashamed of your searching behaviour – you probably want to stop. We can’t feel too guilty nonetheless; the app dubiously markets our impulse to keep tabs on people. From the evidence, it seems Instagram stalking stems from pessimism. It’s a route to feeding insecurity, similar to looking in a mirror and scrutinising flaws. If you genuinely feel a connection with an Instagrammer and simply enjoy their content, why not stay updated? But if checking is due to comparison and judgement on your behalf, you probably have acceptance issues to work on.
On a 2015 Grazia piece, writer Vicky Spratt said Instagram “makes me feel like nothing will ever be enough. It makes me want to scroll until I find something, but I don’t know yet exactly what”. Is a lost feeling of boredom what Instagram stalking is actually about? We’ve seen the aspirational shots; we’re now covered in “real” emotions and confessions. Where do we go? Maybe we stalk for answers to our own puzzlement – looking for someone else to clothe our blank dots.
Melina Elisa says
I never thought about it this way. Even if someone has 55 followers, they have 55 people watching and following their lives. We have created places where anyone can stalk us, which is kind of weird if you really think about it. While I’ve been trying to get better about posting things on my stories, I haven’t been doing much of a good job. I’ve been getting better of watching less stories, and spending less time on social media, and more time being productive. Great post Laura! Also, love the look of your new blog format! xxx
Melina | http://www.melinaelisa.com
Thank you Melina! I use to post everyday on Instagram (sometimes two photos a day) and tried to always share interesting stuff on my IG story. But I realised I was just taking too many random pics and pressuring myself to constantly have something worth mentioning.
It is really weird that I did that so strangers could keep up with my daily life.
The apps can be so unproductive because we’ve (society) has become addicted to using them. I imagine we would all enjoy social media more if we took a step back. xxx
I find it really hard to keep up with people now. I wish the algorithm went back to how it was before. I definitely have a persona on Insta. I guess because I am so open on my blog, I like to keep other sides of my life private, like not showing family etc.
Chasing after someone else’s lifestyle is never healthy, especially when most people construct a small potrayal of reality.
Great topic girl! I can totally relate. I feel like everyone including me is guilty of FB, IG or any kind of digital stalking. I’ve lost touch with most of my HS and college friends and I do find myself going to their profile and watching their stories or pictures just to see what they are up to since I do miss them. I feel like people do the same to mine. I feel like there is nothing wrong in checking out friend’s social media accounts if you miss them. I feel that it’s not good to stalk their profile due to jealousy reasons thinking they have a better life than you do.
I only look at their stories and profiles because I miss the good old memories, not because of jealousy reasons. I know a lot of girls are guilty of this which really annoys me because everyone including my friends judge me based on what I post on social media that they have no idea how shitty my real life is lol. Social media blurs reality and people need to grow up to understand that every person has problems and not everyone is happy even though their social media accounts look “perfect”.
I personally think it’s a total waste of time going through friend’s stories and profiles all the time and comparing our lives to our friends. I would rather focus on myself and improve on being a better version of myself and not care about what other people think of me and society is always about judging and being perfect. I’ve been doing a social media detox a bit now and I try not to watch friend’s stories all the time since it sometimes negatively influences me and reduces my self-confidence. I’ve been just improving and concentrating on things that define me and make me happy and I don’t care even if my friend’s judge.
Loved this post girl ❤️
Thank you lovely! I think missing someone is always the exception – providing it’s not an ex from a bad relationship etc.
I haven’t looked at old friend profiles in a while, but only because I realised it wasn’t the healthiest thing for me.
You can’t really win with social media. If you share all the sad stuff happening, people can say you’re looking for attention. And likewise if you just post the good, people can say you’re living a lie. I think it’s normal to show one side of reality. It would probably be too much if we showed every good and bad thing in photos on IG.
To me you have a great attitude. Why worry what other people think and whether they may judge. As long as it feels good to you, that’s what matters. xxx