On My First Social Media Stalker

Social Media Stalkers - The Anti-Social Media

For whatever reason the universe chose to see fit, I am attractive prey to online stalkers.

My first online stalking incident occurred in 2005. I was a freshman in college, and I was heavily depressed because I’m better at being friendly online than being friendly in the real world. I was also a vocal music major, and my repertoire was all about either being sad, falling out of love, or death.

I set myself up for the path to happiness early.

Back in those days TheFacebook was new and shiny, and profiles on TheFacebook were not nearly as shut down as most people do now. Profiles were pretty much open to everyone at your University. So, that meant any freak with a @myuniversity.edu email address could see my entire profile.

And my profile was epic. For a while, I played a game where every single time I logged into TheFacebook I added an interest, a favorite movie, book or music. Keep in mind this was before the newsfeed, statuses, and the ability to comment on anything. You either made your profile entertaining, or there was no point to it. I also had a blog (that is long gone) that I wrote about all my troubles on, and I linked to it from my profile on TheFacebook.

So I had an open profile with too much information, and a personal blog where I was over-sharing my trivial yet seemingly ALL IMPORTANT problems every day. I was set up for a disaster.

The disaster’s name was Cornelius [Note: Not his real name, obviously].

Cornelius discovered me through some sort of stalking on TheFacebook, and decided I was cute and tragic and he needed to fix manipulate me. So, he sent me an e-mail on a Friday night, probably because he thought I was so depressed I was hanging onto every message sent my way. However, I didn’t open it within minutes on a Friday night. So, within five minutes of sending this e-mail, I get an IM.

Cornelius: Hi Jay!

Jay: Hi, who is this?

Cornelius: Cornelius. I just sent you an e-mail.

Jay: Oh?

Cornelius: Yeah, I wanted to talk to you and see if you want to hang out.

At this point in the conversation, I’m desperately looking for the e-mail as I simultaneously freak out and text my friend who I was thankfully going out with that night. I stall on the IM as long as I can as I read the e-mail Cornelius sent.

Below is the majority of the original e-mail, because I am a psychopath and like to hold onto things like this:

Hey Jay, my name is Cornelius.  I was looking at facebook and come across you.  I went to your website and read some of your articles that you had written.  I think that had to be some of the most  emotional stories that I have ever read.  It means even more since they are true and came from your heart. I’ve been like you for so long. You referred to not breaking down and wanting to retreat. I feel like that a lot too.  It seems that nobody understands what you’re going through and you can’t really talk to anybody about it, but you can express it through the written word just to let your feelings out.  I just want to let you know that you are not alone.  I feel lonely all the time too, especially when you realize who your true friends are. Yet, there are a few occassions when I feel happy and those days are becoming more frequent as I move on with life. However, in my heart, I still feel alone.  So, I understand you completely, and I think that it is wonderful that you are able to express that and want to share it with people.  I’d love to get together some time and talk, because you seem like a great guy to talk to about life in general.  I’m not looking for hookup type stuff, so don’t worry about that. [Emphasis mine]  I would like to be in a relationship with somebody down the line.  Some say that that doesn’t equal happiness but you can’t truly understand that if you are dating somebody; it’s so much easier for them to say and for us to deal with.  I have AOL IM.  My screenname is [redacted] if you wanna chat sometime.  Or, you can email me. Hope to hear from you soon!

Did you make it through that? I read that email 6 years later and I still feel dirty. I still wonder what the hell I was thinking about having so much of my life, and my problems, out in the open online.

I took the very proactive step to do absolutely nothing. I proceeded to let Cornelius IM me nearly every single time I got online for the next month, until I finally broke down one day and decided to meet with him for dinner at the university dining hall. Somewhere with lots of people, and somewhere if I started screaming for help someone could bash a tray over his head.

Like all stalkers who lack social skills, it was apparent in his appearance. His haircut looked like a bowl cut left over from 1989, his outfit like a sad collection of ill-fitting items from Wal-Mart, and his teeth were green. I kid you not. They were green. I never believed people in America, the land where every toothpaste has whitener, could have green teeth, but by God it is possible.

I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a meal faster in my life while attempting to have a conversation. Words spilled out of my mouth as I fumbled to shovel more pasta in. I wish I could remember any of the conversation, but I was so traumatized by the whole event I blacked it out. By the time it was over, I was ready to never contact any humanity again.

When I got back to my dorm, I had an IM from Cornelius:

“I should have kissed you goodnight”

My jaw dropped in horror. This man had the social perception of a goldfish, and he wanted to put those terrifying green teeth within millimeters of my presence.

Finally, something inside of me snapped and decided I needed a spine. I said, “No, you won’t.” and immediately blocked him on AIM, Facebook, and any other method I thought he could use to contact me.

I wish I could say I never heard from Cornelius again, but he crossed my path in other surprising, horrifying, and sometimes hilarious ways while I was still in college. Still, I have never been the same with what I share about myself online. I’m much more guarded about what I talk about, when and how I talk about it.

It was a hard way to learn a lesson, but still it is something I am glad I learned when I did. No single event has shaped my blogging as much as that one. It seems so distant, taking place in a world where instant sharing was just a few years away from what we are using now, yet it seems more relevant than ever.

Protect yourself online. You never know when a man with green teeth will fall in love with your online identity.

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31 Responses to “On My First Social Media Stalker”

  1. Brad March 2, 2011 at 7:17 am #

    For a brief, nervous-making moment, I thought I knew who you were talking about. Now I *think* the person I’m thinking of is a different person. Maybe.

    • Jay March 2, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

      We can compare stalker stories sometime.

  2. WNF IV March 2, 2011 at 7:26 am #

    I have had a stalker/impostor for about 6 months now. I don’t know how to get rid of it. Did you ever consider hiring a hitman? Anyone know what their rates are? Money isn’t an issue. Thanks.

    • Jay March 2, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

      Restraining Order.

  3. John Morrow March 2, 2011 at 8:32 am #

    Wow, great story.

    My tale isn’t quite so gory, but I did eventually set up a special Facebook chat category for this one woman so that all my other friends could see me on line but she couldn’t. And I set a special ring tone on my phone, linked to her number, that sounded like an air raid siren.

    She was the poster child for why, if you’re drunk with a friend and they tell you that they want to have sex with you “just once” and then just stay friends, you should never ever believe them. The day after we did the deed, she emailed me 3 times, texted me at least 5 and left me 3 increasingly desperate voice mails.

    No matter how gaudily I painted the clue wagon, she never could see it. Eventually I had to block/defriend her.

    • Jay March 2, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

      Did you try painting the wagon gaudily with rainbows and body glitter?

      Some people just need help learning how to connect and disconnect with human beings.

  4. aburtch March 2, 2011 at 9:04 am #

    Sometimes you have to learn lessons the hard way. But when you do, it always seems that those lessons are more deeply ingrained.

    • Jay March 2, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

      Exactly. This is why I no longer blog about depression.

  5. Morgan March 2, 2011 at 9:23 am #

    I’m glad you wrote about this. Because people these days are like, “oh whatever, I’LL never get stalked, I’LL never get my identity thieved. I’LL never be placed on spam email lists.” So they willy nilly put their shit out there and one day, low and behold, someone’s traced their phone number, found where they live and…well, you get the idea from there.

    It happens. My computer was hacked back in the day because I didn’t secure anything. They knew a lot of information about me, too because of what I put online. So it was scary.

    But, live and learn, I suppose. Most people gotta go through it before realizing the dangers.

    • Jay March 2, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

      It sucks to go through this to realize the dangers. I just hope my story scared some of the kids out there.

  6. Pat Kent March 2, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    Freaky story thanks for the reminder to not be TOO open on the web. Also, props to the zombie stick figure you drew.

    • Jay March 2, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

      It’s supposed to be a caricature of my stalker. Any zombies I draw would have the taste for BRAAAAAAINS…

  7. Teri Saylor March 2, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    Hey Jay: Protecting yourself is key. In my early career as a newspaper reporter in a small town, I had a real life stalker who started out by calling me and reporting on places he had seen me. Then he revealed he knew things about me like where I grew up, went to college, etc…and this was before Google. Like you, I met him in person in a public place and once I knew who he was, I realized he was EVERYWHERE. He would even park in the Post Office across from my home for hours. The guy never threatened me, or contacted me or approached me…he just followed me around and watched me all the time. I met a guy who became my boyfriend, and after that, the stalker vanished…poof…into thin air and I never saw him again. That experience made an impression, and today, I try to be vigilant and even though I maintain high visibility online, I don’t put alot of personal info out there, especially anything that would make me seem alone and vulnerable. Glad your issue turned out okay. So many of them don’t. Be safe! - Teri Saylor

    • Jay March 2, 2011 at 6:36 pm #

      So, I need to get a boyfriend and blog about him. Got it.

  8. Debbie March 2, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    Oh, thank God TheFacebook wasn’t around when I was in college, or I would have been a ripe, naive target for stalking. I’ve encountered a few people on facebook that creeped me out enough to block them. Being in the tv business, I see stalking of our on-air people all the time and it’s no joke. People are crazy.

    • Jay March 2, 2011 at 6:35 pm #

      I think I’d die if I had any extended stalking. It just seems horrible.

  9. Roxy March 2, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    So I read this while at work and had to cover my out-loud laughs with subsequent coughs until someone finally asked me if I was feeling sick… Thanks for bringing a little humor to my day :)

    On a totally unrelated note, I’m looking into stricter privacy settings on my Twitter and Blog accounts…

    • Jay March 2, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

      I’m glad my previous pain brought you so much joy.

      The best rule of thumb is that if you don’t want it public, don’t put it on the internet at all.

  10. Sarah March 2, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

    I have been stalked online and in person. I tend to weigh everything I put out there now. Creepy! I’ve had lingerie sent to my house earlier this year and anyone who knows me, knows that isn’t how I roll - plus, it was cheapo stuff from Kmart. Anyway, I feel for ya…such a pain. I also get a lot of marriage proposals…after one date. Maybe the two things are connected? Who knows!

    • Jay March 2, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

      Note to stalkers: At least get Sarah the nice kind of lingerie from Victoria’s Secret. K-mart impresses no one.

      The second part is why I just don’t go on dates anymore.

      • John Morrow March 2, 2011 at 6:36 pm #

        You don’t go on dates because you’re tired of you marriage proposals being rejected?

        • Jay March 2, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

          All of my marriage proposals are rejected by state law.

          • Claire Wagner March 2, 2011 at 9:23 pm #

            We are supporting marriage equality so you won’t have that excuse any more.

  11. Paul Sutton March 2, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    Bloody hell! That was a post out of left field!! What on earth prompted you to write this, mate? I’m genuinely intrigued.

    And I’m also morbidly curious! I want to know more about The Cornelius Identity’ saga. As my 18 month old daughter would put it: “more, more, more!”

    PS I know where you live.

    • Jay March 2, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

      I’ve just been feeling like writing something completely different, with more of a narrative, and a different kind of humor.

      And I know where you live too. ;)

  12. Claire Wagner March 2, 2011 at 3:33 pm #

    Wow. Wow. First, I used to wish that somebody would blow up the servers associated with Live Journal when my kids were teenagers. Is LJ still around? If so, somebody please blow it up. Second, I had a friend with green teeth. I kid you not. His mom let him eat sugar all the time. 24×7, he was high on sugar. Thought you might like to know that. At any rate, this post is an excellent and timeless warning to all of us. Thanks.

    • Jay March 2, 2011 at 6:28 pm #

      LiveJournal is still around. It’s owned by Russians though, which is kind of like having it blown up, except not.

      And I’m so glad to know there are other Americans with green teeth. Or horrified, I can’t decide which.

  13. Lori Randall Stradtman March 2, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

    Hi Jay,

    I feel like we really know each other and have a deep, soulful connection after reading this post… not really. But I did enjoy it and really appreciate your anti-overshare rant. :)

    • Jay March 2, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

      For a moment, I read that first sentence, and my heart stopped.

  14. Dino Dogan March 2, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    Hi Jay…I guess its time for me to admit it…Dino is my alter ego…my real name is Cornelius..muah ha ha ha


  15. Nicholas March 3, 2011 at 12:11 am #

    I’ve been reading your posts for about a month. First off, you’re doing an excellent job!

    I very much appreciate you getting particularly personal and real with this one. I’ve had annoying people bother me online — I hate to block others, but sometimes that’s all ya can do. I also think it’s hilarious looking back at a couple of guys I met who ended up being far different in person than online. I’ve also met some fantastic people as well.

    Oh and I’d be totally false to omit that you’re a very attractive man. Or else you’re just really good at choosing flattering photos of yourself for your ‘about’ section!

    Cheers! From DC

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