If you grew up in the early 2000s, you probably know your way around most social media platforms. Relationships have begun, ended and progressed on social media. And it’s a major generational marker to say that you grew up on the Internet. And with great power comes great responsibility. Facebook stalking is the phenomenon of finding out a lot of information about someone, typically starting from very little base knowledge.
Once in high school, I found a boy’s entire Facebook and Twitter profile just by knowing his first name and what high school he went to in Indiana. Some people are scary good at it, and a meme has circled around comparing teenage girls to FBI agents about their ability to find things out, for better or for worse. And while there is a debate about the respectfulness of digging for information from someone in a semi-unsolicited manner, there is some good that comes from it.
Believe it or not, better research skills come from the Facebook stalking era.
There is a certain asset to being able to follow small bits of information down the rabbit hole to find conclusory evidence of certain traits of a person with little to begin with. When researching for a project or paper, it can be difficult to know where to start, and even harder to know where to go from there. Often times professors will want you to use scholarly and peer-reviewed sources, which can be overwhelming to sift through and make sense of.
But I can honestly say that with the progression of my skills finding out about someone’s great aunt’s embroidery business by just knowing their high school prom date’s name has come in handy. There is a certain level of perseverance that comes with Facebook stalking.
Not taking “no results” for an answer and following theories through to either their success or demise is an asset when you are researching sociological theories of development and complex international issues, too.
Understanding that there is always more to find out and more that could surface from research will aid in finding the whole of a story, the untold footnotes of things they don’t mention in the page one news articles.
Maybe this will inspire some fellow Facebook stalkers to become inspired and invigorated in writing final papers for the semester. If JSTOR has you blue, reorient your mind to a social media stalking mindset, maybe it will wake your brain up. And if you find yourself lacking in the way of social media “research,” I’m sure you could walk outside of your dorm room, give a healthy shout and find someone to teach you their ways.
There are plenty of research methods like boolean phrasing, and using the best suited database that can be taught by GEP professors and library staff. Take what you know about that and apply to whatever — or whoever you are trying to learn about.