Monday, September 6, 2010

What is a "Facebook Stalker"?

Facebook stalker seems to be a commonly used word these days. And yet, like many neologisms, it doesn't really have any meaning. Merriam-Webster Law Dictionary defines stalking as the following: "the act or crime of willfully and repeatedly following or harassing another person in circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to fear injury or death esp. because of express or implied threats". However, this doesn't seem to be the common use of the word in Facebook stalker. While certainly one could harass another on Facebook, it seems to be of another nature. A Facebook stalker is often depicted as someone who browses a person's information, pictures, etc. despite not having a relationship with said person. This would seem to be related to another neologism, a creeper.

Collins Dictionary defines creep as the following: "
a person considered to be obnoxious or servile." And thus we come to the heart of the matter: a Facebook stalking is not an act one can universally do, you must be considered obnoxious by the receiver. However, isn't that the nature of harassment? How the harassee perceives the action? And yet, this is quite different, as it involves not the nature of the act but the nature of the actor. If person A were to think of person B neutrally, non-obnoxious that is, viewing person A's information, pictures, etc. would not be considered Facebook stalking. However, the inverse is thus true.

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