We need to talk.
Or rather you need to listen. Imagine the following:
You awaken one winter morning to the sound of a bus driving by your window. As you rub the sleep out of your eyes, you take a moment to appreciate how rested you feel, and stretch out your arms and legs like a family pet begging for a belly scratch.
You have a 9:30 class today. You shouldn't feel this rested. You jump out of bed and run to your alarm clock to confirm your fears. You've overslept.
After throwing on a ratty hoodie and some sweatpants, you grab your backpack and bolt out of your room. With speed rivaling a Nigerian at the Olympics, you make it out of your building and halfway across campus. Your destination is in sight. The soundtrack to Chariots of Fire is blasting in your head. You've almost reached the door-
Then your shoe hits a crack in the pavement and you topple to the ground.
Lying on the cold, unforgiving concrete, you wonder whether that wet feeling on your arm is blood or just a cracked tube of mascara from your backpack. You also pray to God that no one noticed your stunning display of teenage awkwardness.
"You okay there?"
You sigh, and wonder if your prayers to God will ever be answered. Picking yourself up, you turn to address the person.
"Yeah, I'm fine," you reply. "I was just..."
You trail off as you notice the immaculate specimen of man standing in front of you. You instantly regret the hoodie and sweatpants.
"Well here, let me help you with your stuff," he says, bending down to pick up some things that fell out of your backpack. You don't immediately register his words because you're too busy looking at his lips and imagining all the wonderful things he can do with them.
"Th-thank you," you stutter. "I'm --- by the way."
"It's no trouble," he replies. "And I'm ***." There's a pause. "Well, I'll see you around."
As he fades into the distance, your mind begins to race. Hot! So hot! Almost as attractive as Scott Rosenfeld! How can I see this guy again? I don't have class with him. I haven't seen him around. But I want him. And I need to make sure he realizes how much he wants me too. And that's when you ask yourself a very important question, a question that preteen girls and state prosecutors alike have all asked at one time or another: At what point does pursuing your crush become stalking?
Luckily for you, your friend Scott is here to enlighten you on the subject.
Online Stalking: A Beginner's Guide
Since the dawn of time, unsuspecting men have fallen prey to overzealous women trying to win their affection. Originally it was all very simple. Eve only had to stand next to a tree and suggestively caress an apple to grab Adam's attention. But times have changed since then. And so have the rules.
In this digital age, the convenience of the internet can be very alluring. After all, you can probably find out everything you'd ever want to know about your crush - his birthday, class schedule, what he looks like without a shirt on - just by browsing his Facebook page. But keep in mind that there is a distinct boundary between interest and obsession. I'll give you some examples.
Scenario One: You are sitting with your friends, excitedly discussing the attractive boy who helped you with your books. Your disturbingly handsome friend Scott asks what this boy looks like, and so you whip out your laptop and conduct a Facebook search. Fortunately, *** is not a very common name, and it doesn't take long before you're staring at his profile picture, again mesmerized by the brilliant work that the Lord has done. For the next twenty minutes, you analyze his favorite books, movies, and quotes and repeatedly conclude that you two are soulmates.
See anything wrong with this picture? You shouldn't. At least not in my opinion. All that you did was look at his profile, reading information that he made readily available to anyone with an internet connection. That your criteria for choosing a soulmate include favorite quotes on Facebook is of some concern, but we'll let that one slide.
Scenario Two: After looking at your crush's Facebook page for an hour or so, you wonder what his phone number is. After all, a flirty text might be a good follow-up to your encounter on the quad. He hasn't listed his cell number on his profile, so you get a little creative. You check to see if he's joined any groups for a friend who's lost a cell phone, and to your delight he's a member of two. On the wall of the group page you find the ten digits you've been searching for, and gleefully enter them into your phone.
Think this is another average online act? Think again, crazycakes. Not only have you jumped from a 2 to a 6 on the stalker scale, but an unsolicited text from a girl he barely knows will likely send this guy running. And not toward you in slow motion.
Purposeful Chance Encounters
Online interaction can only go so far you know. Men tend to be more interested in something right in front of them. But if you don't run into this boy in your daily routine, how can you make sure you see him enough to lay the foundation for your future romance? And, more importantly, how can you do it in ways that don't warrant a restraining order?
Believe me, I know where you're coming from. With the scarcity of quality gay men on this (or really any) campus, I find myself employing a variety of creative methods when I find out about a new prospect.
In this case it's harder to distinguish what's acceptable and what's not because it's all technically stalking (after all, the goal is to purposefully run into your crush). But some methods are less comparable to Fatal Attraction than others.
Scenario One: On his Facebook page, you find out your crush's class schedule, and you check the online course catalog to find out the location and time of each of his courses. Over the next week, you make it a point to casually walk around outside of his classrooms just as his classes are ending in the hopes that you two will run into each other.
I shouldn't have to explain whether or not this is appropriate, but there really is nothing as illogical as a woman in love so I'll spell it out for you.
If you continue to behave like that, they're eventually going to make a Lifetime movie about you. And chances are you'll be played by someone ugly. And not very famous.
Scenario Two: You check his Facebook page, and notice that he's attending a party that you were also invited to. You were thinking about going anyway, so that night you get a few friends together, make sure the twins are looking their best, and head over to the soiree. You look around every now and then to see if he's in the room, but mostly you and your friends just dance. Da da doo doo. Mmm, just dance.
Do you see the difference? While you definitely used questionable techniques to ensure that you two would be in the same place, the context is vastly different. You chose to go to a party you were already invited to, and more importantly you didn't let the quest for your crush dominate your night. I applaud you and your mild stalking techniques.
So what have we learned here today? That desperation is about as unattractive as a cold sore? That state legislation doesn't approve of unrequited love? That C-list actresses have very little job options? Hopefully all of these things. I like to think that I've imparted some wisdom, and haven't simply taught you more ways to get information about the boy you like. Especially since that would make me an accessory.
I'm too pretty for jail.