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  1. #1

    Stalking The Streets of Cyberland

    You sign onto your computer after a hard days work and after having just devoured a fine Hungryman TV dinner while watching a rerun of Seinfeld. You click to activate your AIM instant messenger and feel the anticipation of being able to finally speak with Aunt Hilda and see how her chemotherapy is coming along, when suddenly it happens -- Night Shadow132 sends you the IM you didn't want to see, but you knew that would come.

    "Hi baby, where have you been, I waited all day to talk to you!," he types.

    --Gasp--- you exhale, what shall I ever do? This guy has been "stalking" me for all of a week now and is beginning to freak me out! No matter where I go, when I sign on, what message board or chat I visit, he is there, in the shadows! Is this guy some sort of uberhacking kid straight out of "War Games?" Or is it simply that the person on your end (i.e., the stalked) is not the most practical and, well let us admit it, smart?

    Welcome to the much ballyhooed world of "internet stalking," a rather new phenomenon brought on by the age of digital revolution and the flashy newsrag channels that now decorate cable news. Much like the brainless chick in the bad B title slasher flicks who would rather push particle board furniture in front of an axe wielding killer while running upstairs instead of out of the house, many of our newbies to the age of the internet would rather scream, run, and histrionically throw their cyber hands in the air than do something as simple as changing a screen name, e-mail address and if necessary, their ISP.

    Internet "stalkers" really do get a bad rap (if they even really exist at all). Should it be the stalkers fault that most people aren't wise enough to take the necessary and diminutive steps to inhibit such nefarious action? How can one stalk, when one's target simply vanishes without as much as a cyber fingerprint? The simple answer is they can't. Without dumb prey, there is no stalker.

    Internet stalking doesn't exist because there is no comparison to real, physical stalking. The only way a "cyberstalker" can become physically threatening is if you fatuously provide him with your name, phone number, and address. In real life, when say a celebrity is stalked, they have real problems. The stalker knows their real identity, likely their address (thank you paparazzi) and many other private details. Even someone as rich as a celebrity cannot easily continue to live as if they were in the Witness Protection Program when a real "Night Shadow" is walking the pavement outside, anticipating their next move.

    "Stalker," to be succinct, is much like the term "hero." An oft' brandished word that these days has little relevance. Everyone is a "hero" now, from the fireman who rescues a cat from a 5 ft' tree to the nervous interstate trucker who warns other motorists of a looming tornado over the horizon. Forget that every time the word is used in such a sense that real heroes like Audie Murphy and other combat veterans of real conflicts become a little more marginalized. No, most of us find it convenient to use the term for the most mundane tasks of good samaritanship. The same can be said for "stalker." "Stalker" is used in every situation from an upset husband wanting to see his adulterous and lascivious wife for the last time, to a young man in high school who likes to walk by and see the subject of his latest crush sitting in Biology class.

    This little tirade is not about condoning stalking or any other sort of nefarious action, but to remind us to utilize a little uncommon sense. Save "Stalker" for those who do the real damage and pose an immediate threat, and leave "hero" to those who are known for real uncommon valor and who's lives could have as easily been lost to war, strife, or turmoil.

  2. #2

    Stalking The Streets of Cyberland

    I trhink you seriously underestimate how much distress internet stalkers cause to their victims. My guess is that it's never happened to you. But it has happened to many - and it isn't fun when it does.

  3. #3

    Stalking The Streets of Cyberland

    I agree with David, the stress of being bothered by someone that you don't want to have anything to do with can be very scary! I have a friend who was stalked for afew years. She was a nervous wreck and somehow he kept finding her online, he knew the sites she would visit and knew her IP as well.

    I've been lucky and not experienced that and I hope I never do!

  4. Re: Stalking The Streets of Cyberland

    It's pure terror.

    Especially when they find out your personal information, such as a phone number or address.

  5. #5

    Re: Stalking The Streets of Cyberland

    For a person to experience anxiety one does not always have to have the triggering event in sight. But rather anxiety usually is the ANTICIPATION of a given event. Stalking is stalking. It is a terrifying experience and when it happened to me the person knew where I lived with using the internet to find my exact location and obtaining my phone number as well. I changed my number, moved and became better aware of my surroundings. The anxiety decreased over time.

  6. #6

    Re: Stalking The Streets of Cyberland

    I think the initial post was very articulate, but I also think the writer seriously underestimates the danger of Internet stalking. In my own case, even if I might not have been in physical danger, I think I was legitimately concerned when someone tracked down my geographical information from the Internet and began to post inflammatory and sometimes threatening statements about me in his blog. This happened about a year ago, and at the time, I had no idea who or where this person was, or how serious they may or may not be. It could have been trollish behavior and no more, but it really could have been a seriously sociopathic predator of some sort. I think it's certainly understandable for one to be concerned under such conditions. It's the very "not-knowing" that makes the whole thing freaky.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    United States
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    Re: Stalking The Streets of Cyberland

    Obviously, the person who wrote this article hasn't had the pleasure of rataining a "stalker". When your every move is shadowed, and you don't wish for it to be, when you have repeatedly been assailed by unwanted e-mails, IM's pop-ups (and you have TOLD the person to stop), when the computer is used so often to obtain private information such as social, phone, address, family history and such,
    IT IS AN "IMMEDIATE THREAT."
    We issue restraining orders and arrest for tresspass for someone who threatens us physically or even verbally, why not for those who circumvent the initial confrontation, but nonetheless have the intent?? --POOHBEAR

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