I have unintentionally become an internet stalker
August 1, 2013 2:07 PM   Subscribe

I took "internet stalking" a little too far. It's best to never try to contact this person, right?

A few months ago, a guy who seemed really cool messaged me on OkCupid. He was the highest match I've ever had and we had the same opinions on almost every question answered. He lives in my small town and goes to the same college. I was pretty excited and spent a while deciding what to reply. He deleted his account the next day, before I had a chance to respond. I was a little sad, but after a day I pretty much forgot about him.

A few days later, I went to the website of one of my meetup.com groups and saw his same exact profile picture on the "Recent activity" sidebar. I thought it would be pretty awkward to see him at a meetup event and it was during midterms week, so I skipped a few meetings just in case he showed up. Lots of people join the meetup group but rarely do they show up - we have about 600 members and only 20 or so people at each meeting. I forgot about him once again.

About a month later, I passed him on the street at college. I recognized his face but I couldn't figure out where I knew him from, then I remembered. I thought this was pretty weird since it's a big college and there is almost no chance of me passing anyone I know at any time. There seems to be all these weird signs pointing towards us meeting. So then I checked out the meetup.com group and saw he was attending every meeting and even started a smaller subgroup for young people AND a club at college!

I know this is wrong and I know I'm a big creep. I know if someone did this to me I would feel really violated. But I internet stalked and found his Facebook and reddit account. I added him as a friend on a fake Facebook account. I am lonely and have an overactive imagination, so I constantly imagined what he was like and how we would get along. I've been checking his Facebook and the meetup.com group every few days.

So that's the story of how I became a stalker. I deactivated the fake profile and I don't look at his Facebook anymore. I guess I do not really deserve to feel better about it, but is there any way I can try to make myself forget about this and forget about the fact that I really violated someone's privacy? I know some people do light "Facebook stalking", but it's usually of people they know and on their real accounts. I created a fake account just to add him. That's really bad.

But the bottom line is that I can't meet this guy after all of this, right? I would like to just forget all about him, but he is in a meetup group I really loved and I would really love to be part of the new club at college. I truly want to return to the meetup group and go to the new club for the purpose of the group/club, not just to meet this guy.

I know you guys will give it to me straight. So should I just forget about the meetup group and the new club at college?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Kill and forget the Facebook account as a mistake. Go to a meetup and if he's there and you have an opportunity, go up and tell him you recognize him from OKC. Improvise from there.
posted by rhizome at 2:10 PM on August 1, 2013 [46 favorites]

A few days later, I went to the website of one of my meetup.com groups and saw his same exact profile picture on the "Recent activity" sidebar. I thought it would be pretty awkward to see him at a meetup event

What? This is what I don't understand. Dude messaged you on OKC. You didn't message him back. You find out you might see him in person but apparently that's awkward? Why is that awkward?

Just go to the meetups. Try to forget about this weird facebook thing. If you guys click, that's awesome. Maybe once you know each other a bit you could come clean about the whole stalking thing (small chance he could actually find it pretty amusing).
posted by phunniemee at 2:12 PM on August 1, 2013 [26 favorites]

I think you're OK here because you haven't actually made contact with the guy. Your perceived creepiness is all on your side, and it's good that you realized it before you did anything embarrassing. If you're interested in the meetup group independent of him, go. Just be careful not to let on about your extensive research on him. Remember, you don't actually know him, so don't act like you do.
posted by chickenmagazine at 2:13 PM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

The fake profile on facebook was not okay, you're correct. As rhizome said, forget it. Everything else, I think you're in the clear. Don't talk yourself out of meeting him -- he messaged you, remember? Go to your meetup group. No need to ever bring up the facebook thing. Just be like "Hey, I think you messaged me on OKCupid and deleted your profile before I had a chance to respond. So... [raise eyebrow] how you doin'?" or something along those lines.
posted by sleevener at 2:16 PM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

I guess I do not really deserve to feel better about it, but is there any way I can try to make myself forget about this and forget about the fact that I really violated someone's privacy?

Look the stuff you did is ... probably not healthy for you, but you weren't sitting in a tree taking photos of him in the shower. He friended a fake account on Facebook. Unless you were impersonating someone (which is creepy) this guy has no qualms about friending strangers. That's basically saying "I really don't give a shit who sees the stuff on my Facebook." His reddit account is linked to that and same logic goes, honestly.

Right now all the mess, all the problems and all the creepiness are in your head. If you can really make yourself believe that, and let it go, then do whatever the hell you want. Talk to the dude. Hang out with the actual guy. Get out of your own head. He might be awesome, he might be a douche, but right now as things stand, the dude you're thinking of isn't real and doesn't exist.

And, just for the record, maybe like half the people I know Google the hell out of prospective dates. The other half don't find it particularly weird. The fake Facebook profile is going a bit overboard, but you clearly realized you shouldn't do that and did the right thing and deactivated it.
posted by griphus at 2:16 PM on August 1, 2013 [38 favorites]

I see no reason to not to proceed with saying hello. Just play it cool, and realize that he may not be THE ONE, so that if for some reason you two don't get it together, you're not all upset and stuff.
posted by vrakatar at 2:17 PM on August 1, 2013

You are not creepy. A little kooky, maybe.

Go forth and meetup.
posted by dontjumplarry at 2:17 PM on August 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

It sounds like you're doing everything you can to not have to go out and meet him. Initiating dating is hard. Daydreaming about it is easier. Internet stalking is easier. Even obsessing on AskMe about being too much of a stalker to get another chance is easier than going out and just doing it.

Is that what this is about?
posted by Omnomnom at 2:25 PM on August 1, 2013 [35 favorites]

Just go to a meetup event already. Don't mention the sleuthing or the fake Facebook stuff and you should be ok.
posted by fancyoats at 2:27 PM on August 1, 2013

Not only do I not think you've done anything overly creepy (though the fake Facebook profile was a little dishonest, just pretend it never happened), but when I got to the paragraph about the chance passing at your big college and the fact that he'd (recently?) formed a Meetup subgroup for the college, I wondered if he might actually be doing some research on you.

Shut down the computer and go to a Meetup already!
posted by payoto at 2:27 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Here are the next three steps you should take:

1: Delete the fake FB account. Permanently.

2: Shut down your computer. Temporarily.

3: Go to the meetup. Un-self-consciously!
posted by RainyJay at 2:36 PM on August 1, 2013 [7 favorites]

I'm with payoto-- it could be possible that he messaged you on OkCupid and/or joined that Meetup group because he recognized your picture from seeing you around campus.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 2:45 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Is he your wallpaper? Do you have a shrine to him on your wall? Do you know how times he brushed his teeth, or the frequency of bowel movements? Have you torched the car of the last girl he ate lunch with? If he doesn't notice you, do you feel compelled to punish him? Does his continuance of this charade of where he ignores you because you haven't actually interacted with him reached the the point where you are going to have to send him a stern message?

That is a list of stalking from tame to restraining order. I am not sure you really pushed the scales that much.

Feel free to strike up a conversation with him. Let him know that you've seen him around a lot and it seems you both are into similar activities but you haven't really had the opportunity to meet. Then you say, 'I think I'd like to get to know you better. What are you doing Saturday night?' The rest will solve its self.

Also, deactivate the fake accounts and never mention them. Even if 20 years from now the two of you are married and raising kids, it doesn't help you or him to think about that behavior any more.
posted by Nanukthedog at 2:47 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I honestly was expecting way worse from you calling yourself a "stalker" - I think the only wrong move was the fake Facebook account.

But the meetups? Go to the dang thing. HE approached YOU, remember, so clearly he dug you on some level.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:53 PM on August 1, 2013

Also, keep in mind he may have deleted his OK Cupid account because he started seeing someone.
posted by Pax at 2:56 PM on August 1, 2013 [9 favorites]

I think the only wrong move was the fake Facebook account

Seconded. Also I think the people saying you're scared of actually meeting him and seeing how it plays out are spot on. You haven't even given it a shot yet. Give it a shot.
posted by sweetkid at 2:57 PM on August 1, 2013

When I was in college, I had crushes that lasted for a year or more. I would build an elaborate world in my mind where a certain guy and I were perfect together. Someone was super important to me, the subject of SOoo many of my thoughts/drawings/poetry, and I was an acquaintance or near-stranger (usually) to him. Eventually one of my crushes did ask me to a formal at his fraternity. I was so excited. I thought it was meant to be and the stars were finally aligning to their rightful place in the universe. I spent money and looked awesome like it was my freaking engagement party. At the formal, one of my friends (frenemies) spilled the beans and told him I was super into him. He was like, "What? I don't even really know her." It wasn't mutual. It was awkward and went nowhere. None of my crushes did.

You should meet him, and stop the stalking, not because you're evil, but because it's usually counterproductive and unhealthy to having an actual relationship. Really, when there's someone you're interested in, you want to fail quickly. Get in front of the person's face as immediately as possible. Find out if there is anything real there. Almost every minute you spend fantasizing instead of in reality is a waste. By the time someone gets to crush status, it's almost too late for there to be a relationship between you two. I mean, sure, it occasionally works out, but it's really rare because it's already so emotionally unbalanced by then.

So, meet him, as soon as possible, so he can move from fantasy person to reality person. Chalk up the facebook thing as a one time misstep and put it in the past. Don't mention it again. But it's fine to say you recognize him from okc. That'll probably be awkward but it's not a bad conversation starter. If he has a girlfriend, he'll probably bring it up soon after.
posted by htid at 3:01 PM on August 1, 2013 [10 favorites]

I added him as a friend on a fake Facebook account.

Unless I'm missing something (like his accounts were private and you had to hack into something to see them?) this is the only aspect of this that's weird. I see no problem with you meeting him, as long as you don't regale him with your stalking story or anything.

Though I'm old enough to remember when most people didn't know about the internet and if you liked a boy you got his class schedule so you knew what hallway he'd be in at all times, and drove past his house at night, and showed up at his job to say hi even if you had no reason to be there. And no one thought it was creepy, it was just...teen girl stuff. Maybe loser teen girl stuff, but you know. Not a serious problem.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 3:05 PM on August 1, 2013 [13 favorites]

Stop beating yourself up. The fake FB account was wrong, but you know that. Delete the account and involve yourself in your group again. Meet this guy as a real person and see what he is like.
posted by Area Man at 3:20 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Flag it and move on. Go to the meetup and if you meet him, great. Do not bring it up. I would not even bring up the okc thing unless he did and then I would say something like, "I wondered what happened to you. Glad to meet you in person."
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:55 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I thought it would be pretty awkward to see him at a meetup event and it was during midterms week, so I skipped a few meetings just in case he showed up.

First mistake. Go to meetups. You weren't offended to encounter him outside of okcupid, there's no reason for him to be offended to encounter you either. Do the things you want to do.

I added him as a friend on a fake Facebook account.

Second mistake. Weird and not right but not a violation. The antidote to your loneliness is interacting more with real people in real life (such as at meetups), not by internet sleuthing.

I know this is wrong and I know I'm a big creep. ... I guess I do not really deserve to feel better about it,

Biggest mistake. Stop beating yourself up and stop doing things that give you an opportunity to beat yourself up. That's a sucky cycle, break out of it.

Go to meetups, make friends, do more things, live.
posted by headnsouth at 4:14 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

stop beating yourself up about the facebook thing. yes, you were wrong to make a fake profile but you've deleted it. now, get your hiney to the meetup, hang out with your friends there and meet this guy. just be friendly and casual and let nature take it's course. don't try to force anything but don't don't don't avoid him either.
posted by wildflower at 4:17 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing there is nothing creepy about this, except the Facebook. You say you have an overactive imagination but everyone has imagined interactions to some extent as a means to reduce uncertainty. It's not creepy.
posted by Young Kullervo at 4:59 PM on August 1, 2013

Yep. Nothing creepy there except maybe the fake Facebook account. And if he accepted a friend request from someone he didn't know, that's almost as much on him as it is on you. Everything prior to that was what I consider to be routine for doing background research on a guy who's contacted me on a dating site. So far every guy I've met in person has been amused, not creeped out, by the fact that I know his hometown, or birthday, or any of that. (Small sample size though. YMMV.) Whenever someone indicates that he's done any sort of research on me prior to meeting, I feel flattered that he was interested enough to take the time to investigate. So yeah, just dial it back a bit. Forget the Facebook thing ever happened. Just play it cool, and try to get a handle on your "creating a relationship in your mind" thing. That'll drive you nuts. But you should definitely meet him.
posted by storminator7 at 11:11 PM on August 1, 2013

Yeah, this really isn't stalking. You haven't done anything to cause him the slightest grief. The fake FB account was a bit unnecessary but hardly a big deal. Just go and talk to the guy.
posted by Decani at 2:38 AM on August 2, 2013

OK, I'm going to ask - did you put your real photo on the fake Facebook account? Are you afraid he will recognize you and put it all together?
posted by CathyG at 6:55 AM on August 2, 2013

From the queen of overthinking things - you are overthinking this. Nthing everyone else who said the only thing that was borderline creepy was the fake Facebook account, and you already recognized and corrected that. (Haven't we all done that or something like it? Just me? Oh, I mean, no I haven't either!!)

Acknowledge the small mistake and move on. Go to meetups and meet real people and have fun! And forgive yourself for this little itty bitty transgression. You'll stop thinking about it soon enough.
posted by jennaratrix at 9:30 AM on August 2, 2013

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