At a mixer a couple of weeks ago, a young geek glanced at my nametag and said, “You’re the ultimate Facebook stalker, aren’t you?”
He was referring to a story that I broke with Wired.com’s Threat Level team, in which we followed clues on social networking sites to unmask Brian Hogan, the finder of the iPhone prototype sold to Gizmodo.
“Stalker” contains nothing but negative connotations, but in the internet world, we all do it: We use Facebook to search potential new hires, significant others, and even old acquaintances.
But even though I came to terms with being called a stalker, I don’t deserve the name. I’m just not stealthy enough. That became clear last Friday.
A government census taker rang my doorbell for the second time in a couple weeks. I didn’t answer the door (I was sleeping), but I ran into her an hour later as I was leaving my building.
To my surprise, she turned out to be pretty cute: Petite, dark hair, tanned, a laid-back personality — just my type.
So when I got back home from the bar I did just about what anyone would do: looked her up on Facebook. I already had her name, from the note she left on my door after her first visit, which I left ignored under a refrigerator magnet.
I launched the Facebook app on my iPad and looked up her profile: Art student, 20 years old, favorite music: Ghettochild. (No idea who that is.)
And then came the fumble: While trying to tap her photo, I hit “Add Friend” instead. With that simple slip of a finger, my cover was blown.
“SH*T!” I typed to my friend Rose in an IM. “I was Facebook stalking my census taker and I just sent her a friend request by accident! What do I do?!?!”
After laughing at me for a few minutes, Rose made a suggestion.
“I think it’d be creepy if you just said nothing,” she said, “and I think girls find honesty endearing.”
So I wrote the census taker a quick message:
hey um, i was facebook stalking you and accidentally added you. this is embarrassing. anyway, sorry for snubbing you on the census. glad you caught me on the way out!
And the next morning she sent me a reply:
hahaha that’s great, no problem! thanks for cooperating!
The thought crossed my mind to ask her out to lunch, but upon further inspection of her profile I saw that her favorite TV shows were Glee, The Rachel Maddow Show and Will and Grace. So I realized she wasn’t my type after all (nor was I hers). It would’ve been too awkward at this point anyway.
And no, she didn’t accept my friend request.
Morals of the story: The iPad is too easy to use — to a fault. And you shouldn’t Facebook-stalk someone after a night of drinking.
Brian X. Chen is writing a book about the always-connected mobile future titled Always On, due for release in spring 2011. He’s already considering pitching his next book: How to Die Alone.
Fuente: Gadget Lab