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Culture

Has the digital era made us all stalkers? A lesson learnt from Netflix ‘You’

19.03.2019 | By ELENA LONGARI

Stalking on Instagram, looking at our ex’s social media feed seeking confirmations of our sentimental theories, snooping around a co-worker’s profile and using professional social media platforms to hook up with potential partners, are just few of the habits we have more or less legitimately picked up thanks to the so-called digitalization.

But when is it that an apparently light-hearted daily action becomes an obsession, an impulse that can ruin other people’s lives?

After watching Netflix ‘You’’ and following the development of Joe’s obsession for Beck, I got thinking on how and if it is possible to draw a line on the harmfulness of social media concerning our private ‘real life’. Is it possible to allow a creepy guy, a psychopath, enter our lives  just because we haven’t been careful enough about what we post on Instagram?

Or better, have we become so incapable of managing and nurturing real-life relationships that we are too blind to spot a criminal even if we have them right in our beds?

Spoiler alert; this review might contain information viewers could regard as spoilers

Putting your life out there

Becoming a victim of a this new breed of criminals named Instagram stalker isn’t hard at all. Beck is a writer, she is completing her MFA and is seeking to get going with her poetry, but two main distractions stop her from becoming the best version of herself.

Her phone.

Her phake phriends.

Joe is an observer (you’ll later come to the conclusion he’s a maniac who likes to watch others) and notices this, but even before he can elaborate some sort of judgment on how empty and disappointing Beck’s life really is, he scours for information from her social media, starting from Instagram.

Geotagging means giving an Instagram stalker the chance to know where you are, and where to find you.

Tagging friends and family members means allowing a potential stalker to put many pieces of the puzzle together, not only to follow you around, but actually enabling them to predict every single move you are about to make. That’s why Joe always knows the right thing to say and when to say it, even before he manages to get hold of Beck’s phone.

The point is, You’s plot wouldn’t have been possible altogether if Beck’s hadn’t been putting her life, recklessly, out there: her Instagram profile is public as well, which means anyone can just take a look at it and use the information she discloses on her personal life as they want, for good or for bad.

And that’s why Joe is not on Instagram or Facebook, he knows better. He’s defiant of modern society’s pretentious rules, according to which the ‘collages’ of our lives we post on the internet are mandatory to have a place in society itself. If you are not on Instagram, you are labelled as the weird one.

 

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Succumbing to the lack of real-life relationships

Beck’s friends are not her friends, they might actually hate each other from inside and make their respective lives even more miserable than they would if they locked themselves in a room, alone. Luckily, these friends Beck has, are perfect to contribute to the her pristine scenes of fun and girliness she posts on Instagram. And the more she is on it, actively, the more she’s drawn to basing her choices on what happens on her digital life. She becomes a cute version of an Instagram stalker as soon as she is out of the picture and wants to know how someone his filling her shoes in Joe’s life.

Who stalks my Instagram?

Discerning Instagram algorithms is one thing not even the best stalker, maniacal and over obsessed with details, would ever be able to master. But, I have heard the clue to see if you have an Instagram stalker is in your stories and the list of profiles that look at them. The order created by the Instagram algorithm could be giving first places, i.e. you see them first, to those accounts who look at your stories the most, apparently. Does that make the people behind these accounts stalkers?

Nope.

 

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Fake profiles, the real stalkers

An Italian broadcaster did a piece on a girl who, by using a fake profile stalked a showgirl to the extreme; she was pretending to be a man, a well-built bloke into fitness, who commented first at every single post the woman was sharing on Instagram. At first it looked innocent and legit, after a while, ‘this guy’ started to show signs of obsessive behaviours, being abusive and insulting the woman for whoever she was dating at the time. It was pure and proper digital harassment.

How do we know a profile is fake? The rule of thumb on how to behave with people on social media is the same rule  of thumb you would apply on the street. Don’t make friends that easy, especially with people you have no idea who they are.

If only Beck had been more investigative about Joe’s past and roots, she might have worked few things out before their life became inseparable.

Or not?

 

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