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Is following the same as stalking?

February 26, 2009

One thing I like about being on Tumblr – a blogging network – and Twitter, is that people can follow me, which means they find either my profile or my rantings somewhat relevant.  Or, maybe they are just building their brand, and thus, want me to follow them.

Let’s pause for a moment and think about this whole “following” thing.

If I were to follow someone I didn’t know a lot about down the street, that might constitute stalking them.  However, if I find a new Tumblr or a new Twitter that I don’t know much about, following them is absolutely acceptable. It’s even encouraged, with buttons that say Follow (see below).

follow-tumblrfollow-twitter

When you are being followed down the street, I doubt you are too stoked about it.  You might be ready to dial 911 or pull out your Mace if you thought someone was following you.  Why is it, when someone starts to follow you on a social network like Twitter or Tumblr, and you don’t know much about that person, you jump for joy?

I’d say it’s all about objectives.  We want to be followed online.  It builds our online persona.  It makes us popular.  It enables sharing.  When we’re outside on the street or in our cars, our objective is to get where we are going to, not gain friends along the way.  (Hello, hitchhikers?!)

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Crystal permalink*
    February 26, 2009 10:34 pm

    I think it’s all about intent. Benign following is good. Evil stalking is bad. I’m waiting to see what develops with my followers.

  2. melissahamilton permalink
    February 27, 2009 9:58 am

    What about stalking on other social media sites? It takes it one step further – you are saying “yes” to being friends with people who more often than not wouldn’t be on your “invite to a backyard barbecue” list. Really, it’s just following people you were loosely associated with at one point in your life.

  3. Heidi permalink
    February 27, 2009 12:58 pm

    Ah, what a tangled web we weave with our pretty, fancy amusements.

    I’m alternately creeped out and flattered by having followers I can’t identify (two out of eight). On the one hand, part of the point of blogging is to have people read my writing, so yay, I’m being followed by people outside my immediate circle. On the other hand, who are these people and why do they care?

    It’s naive to assume that all followers are benign — the Internet, like the rest of our world, is full of icky people. My blog is a mere 27 days old, but I’ve already learned that moderating comments is a good idea, and had a longtime blogging friend tell me that publicizing my thoughts will require a thick skin.

    All of which makes me happy that I’ve taken some defensive steps, e.g., not posting photos of myself, applying statistical tracking, and not using real names.

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