If you read last week’s post, you already know that my social media presence lives somewhere between Eepsville and Creepytown, USA. Instead of letting strange lurkers bother us, though, why not capitalize on their incredible…creativity?
I mean, let’s say you had access to all of the search terms that ever led people to your blog. Would you just sit on this information?
You would turn that shiz into t-shirts and sell them in your pretend blog store PRONTO!
And then give your fake paying customers the EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK!
BEHOLD [what happens when you spend too much time on Zazzle]…
Oh, what, you don’t believe me? Have a peek:
But wait, there’s more!
And what I plan to add to my own private collection…
“Sometimes I put up a story [on Instagram or Facebook] just to see who’s watching.”
“Wait. Tell me more,” I stared at my friend.
“Yeah, you can totally see who views your stories [that disappear after 24 hours]! It’s a great way to see if an ex is still creeping on your social media.”
As my friend explained more, it made sense. Unlike with normal feed posts, stories capture who has viewed them, so you actually get some insight into not only the total view count, but into exactly which followers have been checking out your stuff. In other words, anyone silently lurking on your social media, never liking or commenting, is CAUGHT. Watching you.
As a long-time blogger, I’m well aware of the depressing statistic that only 1% of readers ever leave a comment. 10% might like your posts, if you’re lucky. So even though you can see how MANY people visit your site [via behind-the-scenes analytics], you never know WHO’S reading.
This was brand new territory.
Over the past few weeks, as part of building my [alter ego] The Vegan Dollar YouTube channel, I started regularly posting and sharing stories on my associated Instagram account. Right away, I noticed a familiar face checking out every. single. story. Sometimes within minutes of hitting publish.
Wait. Didn’t he follow my account like a year ago? I thought that was an accident…I guess it wasn’t! I clicked on his profile image. His account was private. I didn’t follow back.
BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE INSANE.
BECAUSE HE DUMPED ME SIX YEARS AGO.
AND WE HAVEN’T SPOKEN SINCE.
Yup. That’s right. The infamous fellow who texted heart emojis just hours before asking for his apartment key back is now watching every single story…on my vegan brand account…
What. The. Actual. Fudgcicles.
I immediately snapped into research mode. After about an hour, I stumbled on a post that referred to this exact phenomenon. “Orbiting,” the article called it. (And apparently I was late to the scene.)
With this new phrase in my back pocket, I dug deeper. Unfortunately, I soon discovered tale after tale of people -women, especially- with experiences just like mine. In one case, the woman reached out to her peeping-Tom-ex-who-had-dumped-her-years-ago. “Hey, I noticed you’ve been watching my stories,” she messaged. “What’s up? How are you?” The guy never wrote back and immediately blocked her.
Is this okay? Are we okay with leaving it at that? Forgiving stalking just because it’s (arguably) passive? And furthermore, putting the onus on the stalked?
Does having a public social media account give implicit permission for any and all lurking? Are we signing a contract that says, “Sorry, pal, you asked for it”?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve creeped on a page or two in my day. Truuuuust me. And there are certainly instances where exes can remain friends on social media, even if they need to take an initial pause after a break-up. But consistently checking out the content of someone you dumped years ago and with whom you haven’t exchanged a single word, like, or comment since?
Are we really okay with that?
What about a family member with whom you might have had a fallen out, but then notice they’re watching every story of yours on Facebook, while refusing to have an actual conversation?
Ten years of (mostly) sheer tomfoolery. From mustaches to missing thumbs to Made for TV specials, it might be easy to think I naturally see the humor in everything. That the universe winks upon my charmed world and I wink back.
But the truth is, THIS BLOG makes me see the humor in everything. It forces me to consider how I WANT to be and to turn that into reality.
I need that. We all do.
Aside from needing to force myself into seeing the lighter side of life, I also need to force myself OUT of being, well, a bit of a…tightwad. As part of my project manager nature, I like to track money. Think about money. BE IN CONTROL of money.
In order to combat this miserliness, I make myself donate money on a regular basis – to various causes that align with my values. Because despite my practicality, I believe money, just like everything, is simply energy. It flows if you let it flow. And if you believe something is scarce? You’ll experience scarceness.
In other words, the more worried I am about money, the more I make a habit of giving it away.
It…sucks. I feel stupid. Reckless. Pissed off.
And then, quickly, always, I feel…wonderful.
I hesitate to share the following story because it seems like a major #humblebrag, but, well, once you read it, you’ll (hopefully) see that I JUST HAD TO.
Before I fled the recent wildfires here in Oregon, I made a guilt-ridden, combat-Scrooge-Jules donation to the Red Cross, hoping to help some of those faceless heroes fighting fires and other altogether badass things.
My donation was for $1,111.
Because, you know. 11:11. It’s a lucky number full of all kinds of mysticism, and if you’re like me, you’ve always made a wish whenever you’ve caught the clock at that hour.
With that donation under my belt, I made the long drive from Oregon to New Jersey to stay with family for a couple of weeks. I worried during the entire 3,000 mile drive. Was I hand-sanitizing well enough? How would my home state feel after all of these months, especially during a pandemic? Were my friends in Bend doing okay with all of that smoke? Did I make a big mistake by not getting a t-shirt at the world’s largest truck stop?
When I arrived in New Jersey, a strange series of events ensued – all during three consecutive days.
First, my sister paid me back for a COVID-canceled trip: $150.
Next, my father wrote me a check for another family trip that I’d made a deposit for (but had mistakenly thought he’d already paid for): $933.
Then, I went out to (outdoor, masked) dinner with my two best New Jersey girlfriends, Mary and Jenn. Mary drove and after we parked, I stepped out of her car and looked down.
“Uh, Mary, there’s a bunch of money in your car…” I said, my voice muffled behind my mask.
I grabbed a wad of $5 and $1 bills that were wedged between the passenger door and seat. I hadn’t noticed them when I’d gotten in. Mary furrowed her brows.
“I haven’t even driven this car in months [because of the pandemic]. I have no idea where that came from.”
“I think it looks like more than it is because of all of the singles…”
I counted the bills. $28.
“Well, perfect, our tip is covered,” Mary smirked.
We joked about it until our dinner bill came. I quickly calculated a 20% tip.
“Holy shit you guys, a 20% tip comes out to exactly…$28!”
Mary and Jenn were already onboard Jules’s Woo-Woo Bandwagon, so we simply laughed about how cool and “typical” the whole thing was.
The next day, as I quietly sipped my coffee on my parents’ living room couch, I suddenly thought, “Huh. All of this money I’ve unexpectedly stumbled upon probably amounts to close to what I just donated to the Red Cross…”