‘Cause if you’re gonna do it, you better do it right.
Whether you’ve been on one date or one too many, whether he’s your regular 2AM booty call or boyfriend of 2 years, whether you met him on Bumble or at an East Village bar…
You’re gonna stalk him.
Note to anyone born before 1981: stalking no longer includes following half a block behind a boy as he ventures from office to apartment or saving his dirty Kleenex for voodoo rituals lest he break your heart. 21st century stalking is best completed from the comfort of a couch under the warm glow of the TV playing an old school episode of Sex and the City. Today’s stalking is as easy as opening the social media sphere’s most revealing app, Instagram, and digging in.
Are you one of those hopelessly romantic gals who trusts fate and destiny and prefers to approach dating from a Jane Austin-meets-Bridget Jones angle? Yeah, that was me when I started dating in the Concrete Jungle in 2016. Then, a sweet talkin’ Italian Stallion who stole my heart on a Hudson River booze cruise and several subsequent dates thereafter turned out to have a wife and kids in Hoboken – disheartening details I could have uncovered with an advanced Facebook search coupled with a jaded spirit (which is now well-developed). Thus, I now consider social stalking an integral step in the courting process.
First, I should note…
This exercise is easiest if his account is public — a pretty telling detail, to be perfectly honest. If the guy you’re considering has an honest job and strives to lead a fairly respectable lifestyle, his public account indicates he’s as carefree as he is contentious. He’s allowing strangers, acquaintances, potential dates and current/future employers a portal into his personal life. Therefore, his filtered photos — authentic though they may seem — are still filtered enough to maintain his reputation.
If his account is private, he’s certainly not trying to hide anything — were that the case, he wouldn’t be active on social media. However, he’s obviously more guarded and careful with interpretation of his image. My advice? Don’t request to follow those private parties until you’re at least 1 or 2 dates in. Then, give this article a second read.
Let’s get started.
What type of photos populate his feed?
Memes indicate he’s a classic band wagoner
Selfies, or solo photos, indicate a potential inflated sense of self (Note: Models, gay men, and Soul Cycle instructors are exempt from this rule)
Snapchat uploads from neon-lit dance floors are an obvious sign of douche-baggery, especially if one or more of said photos features a male subject in a heavy gold or silver chain necklace
Hashtags suggest he’s trolling for those double taps
Ideally, you’re dealing with a guy who posts a healthy mix of squad snapshots, family photos (extra points if the family golden retriever is featured), pictures from sporting events, and occasional videos from bro getaways to upstate ski resorts that resemble Jackass stunts. And we can only hope his captions are spelled and punctuated correctly.
Followers & Following
Let’s take a quick look at the accounts he follows.
The Average Joe follows male friends, meme and sporting handles, news outlets, athletes, and comedians.
Does he follow mostly women? Don’t be alarmed, considering 2/3 of Instagram’s users are female. However, if a majority of these followees are swimsuit models with a blue “verified” checkmark by their profile name or barely-of-age college gals who snap and share mirror selfies dominated by their cleavage ad overly-contoured lips…well, you can cast your own judgments.
Ready to dive into a black hole of Instagram investigation? Access his profile from your laptop – Instagram.com/XXXX. Here, lists of followers and those followed are sorted by date added, meaning the most recent followers and followees populate the top of the feed.
Look at the most recent accounts he’s requested to follow. Perfect world, you’re presented with a feed of friends and the commonly followed bro accounts listed above.
Then, take a look at the Instagram users who’ve recently followed him. If you’re primarily seeing mutual engagement – meaning followers and followees line up (with the exception of celebrity accounts), he’s not trying to interact with strangers and vise versa. That’s a pretty good sign.
Scrolling through a running list of 50 female followers or followees? Sorry, ladies – you’re dealing with a serial dater. If he’s following a brigade of females and not receiving a follow in return…he must have thought the date or bar meet-up went better than it actually did. If a lot of gals are following him and not receiving a follow in return, good chance he’s dating without any intention of getting to know his conquests more seriously. “Friends First” is not his mantra.
If you really wanna get creepy…
*The following is not advised, as it’s the opening to a long and dark rabbit hole that can lead to obsessive behavior. However, yours truly jumped into the abyss long ago and is more than happy to share her deep, dark secrets.*
Compare Instagram followers to Facebook friends: If he follows someone on Instagram he’s also friends with on Facebook, the chances that they’re personal friends and not just friends with benefits is pretty strong. Stalk Instagram followers on LinkedIn: LinkedIn will demonstrate overlap in education or career, which indicates how he and his followers potentially connected in the first place
If you see no obvious connection after comparing Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn between the individual you’re stalking and his most recent female insta-acquaintance …they probably met at a bar or on a Tinder date. Just sayin’.
Let’s learn more about his habits and whereabouts by exploring his tagged snapshot. Please bear in mind that only photos tagged by public members of the Instagram community will be available for you to examine.
His image in these photos is certainly relevant. For example, if you see repeated pictures of him with his arm draped chummily over the same female subject, you could be looking at someone to which he’s romantically attached.
However, the way he interacts in each snapshot is also very key. Analyze his comment(s) on any tagged picture. For example, if a buddy tags him in a dimly-lit photo captured at a bar wherein he and his squad are clutching Bud Lights and wearing sloppy smiles, see if he’s commented anything to the effect of, “BRO that was one hell of a night. Remember that slut who….”
^^ In this case, exit out of Instagram and never speak to him again.
So there you have it. The social media sphere is weird. It’s also wonderful. You can either read this article and dramatically say, “OMG GIRLS ARE CRAZY WHO WOULD EVER DO ANY OF THIS….”
Or you can do your homework and protect yourself from heartbreak and the menagerie of fukbois roaming Manhattan at this very moment.