“Dude, I Facebook stalk all the time,” says senior Sam Friedberg.
It used to be creepy, but Facebook stalking or exploring other people’s Facebook profiles and activity without their knowledge, has slipped into widespread social acceptance.
When you log on to Facebook, you are bombarded with a stream of your friends’ social lives, which naturally leads to curiosity and exploration. “Girls definitely do it more than boys, and there’s a fine line,” said Nikki Metzger. “I don’t think people do it to intentionally be creepy.”
While most Facebook stalking is harmless, it may actually be providing a perfect storm of jealousy and exclusion. Because social lives are often glorified beyond recognition on Facebook, stalking inherently leads to feeling left out or self-conscious. In some cases, obsessively using Facebook might lead to or exasperate eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia. A study conducted by the University of Haifa has shown that the more time adolescent girls spend on Facebook, the more likely they are to develop negative body images as well as various eating issues. The overall results of the study showed that an increase in “bulimia, anorexia, physical dissatisfaction, negative physical self-image, negative approach to eating and more of an urge to be on a weight-loss diet” plagued young women that spent much of their days on Facebook.
Facebook allows girls to look at photos of other girls and compare themselves to them all within the privacy of their bedrooms. With the News Feed, it’s difficult not to see what peers have been up to and how they’re looking on any particular day. While girls have long dealt with glorified celebrities, they still have no relationship with women in magazines and on billboards, yet they sit next to the girls they see on Facebook every day. Celebrities are expected to look perfect, but when a friend from school does, the effect is compounded. Girls need to remember that they are more than the number of likes on their Facebook profile picture.