Friday, May 15, 2015

Cyber Stalking

Social media creeping has dangerous potential
Juliana Discher | Staff Writer

Stalking is all fun and games until you accidentally hit the ‘like’ button.

There is a new image being associated with the term ‘stalker’ now-a-days. No longer is it a person in a trench coat, clutching binoculars, peering into your window, but rather a person huddled behind a phone screen, scrolling through your daily life.

Creeping or stalking online occurs when a person views someone else’s social media page for an extended period of time. In a study conducted by the National Center for Cyberstalking Research, 70 percent of stalking victims know the person stalking them.  While some may not admit to the act, junior Kim Lyon said she feels online creeping is a rampantly occurring event in the high school age range.

“It’s so common,” Lyon said. “The thing is that most people don’t start out with the mission of stalking, but you click on someone’s picture, and then you click on the likes, and then you click on a page, and then you click on someone tagged in a picture. Next thing you know, you’re creeping on someone in Australia.”

While stalking can be innocent and lighthearted, sometimes things can turn for the worse, according to Lyon.

“One of my friends was in an online chat-room and was talking to someone and became Internet friends with them,” Lyon said. “She let them come into her social media, and eventually she started getting notes from this person outside her house. He would mail her gifts. She used to run in the park and she would see him standing by the playground sometimes.”

At a certain point, Lyon said that there is a line to draw between casual creeping and harassment stalking.

“It’s okay if you go onto social media with the intent of finding out more about someone, but when it turns into constantly watching a person through your computer screen, I think it’s no different than watching someone through their window screen,” Lyon said. “Just as if hiding behind trees and watching someone live their life is stalking, so is hiding behind a username and watching someone’s social life. It’s when this cycle repeats with a stranger that the line between casual stalking and Internet creeping becomes apparent.”

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