ORBITING: Is This Really a Thing?

“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.

But I’ve always assumed at least three exes, two bosses, and my father are reading every post. Hence the consistent lack of truly juicy details.

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.

Don’t mind if I do.

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.




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…

And I wasn’t even vegan when we dated! BECAUSE THAT WAS SIX YEARS AGO.

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.)

The definition provided by Urban Dictionary.

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.

Even reputable sites like Psychology Today provided little helpful guidance. “If it bothers you, block them,” said the majority. “Don’t read into it,” common counsel advised. “They’re probably just curious.” And my personal favorite, “Get over it.”




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”?

In fairness, I am asking for it sometimes.

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?

Is that okay?

Where is the line between curiosity and cruelty?

…Is there one?


Um. So. Hey. Don’t forget to leave a comment 😉


18 thoughts on “ORBITING: Is This Really a Thing?”

  1. It’s only cruelty if you know and torture yourself.🙂 Personally, I don’t care who follows me quietly online. I hope my writings generate some regret. Ha! Keep moving forward and let them stalk in your dust!🙂

  2. Wow… I didn’t even know this was a thing or that there was a term for it. I don’t usually post the “stories” but maybe now I should! Oh, Jules, that is so weird!! I say just ignore the dude.

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one! The part that’s a real head-scratcher to me is that I think people KNOW they’re ‘caught’ when they watch stories… so I would think one would avoid doing it in touchy situations…

  3. Orbiting! I knew it was a thing, just didn’t know there was a term for it. I block those I don’t want to see stuff of FB or Instagram. I can’t control who sees the Blog, but living our best lives and not reacting to these knuckleheads is the best revenge! Gives me great pleasure actually 🙂

  4. Well… gee. I didn’t know this was a defined thing either, although I knew there were stalkers out there. I usually read your posts but don’t often comment. I swear I’m not orbiting though. I just think you’re funny and your dog has more personality than I do.

  5. I’m of two minds on this issue. Yes, it’s a wee bit creepy to have an orbiter… but if you’re putting things on social media in the first place? You’re asking everyone to view it… and that may include exes, disgruntled family members and friends that aren’t friends anymore. If you post it, they will come. I’ve had relatives that snubbed me a decade ago avidly lap up all my vacation photos. Whatever. As far as I’m concerned they can eat their hearts out.

    1. Isn’t it FASCINATING? I can’t stop talking about this phenomenon. Like I said, I’ve definitely creeped on a page or two – but if I knew they could tell? Shoot, I’d be outta there so fast…

  6. The risk of public personas! If he does anything creepy – one tiny iota of anything – block his ass. Otherwise, at least you’re cool enough that he wants to know what you’re up to.

    But seriously, just block (and forget) him. He probably can’t hike South Sister with you anyway.

  7. The people who get me are the ones who post their whole lifes online, then get pissed if they find someone they don’t like reading things. I doubt I am intesting enough for anyone to bother with me, so …JS. I think you could drive yourself crazy with this guy, just block and roll

    1. I see your “doubt I’m interesting enough” and raise you the time I just spent personally stalking you 😉 “Block and roll” – LOVE that! Hmm I wonder if anyone has a blog called “Blog and Roll”…time to go do more stalking…

  8. You may be leaving boredom out of the equation. Wait.. no.. it’s a vegan blog. Does it show what time said person checked it out? Could be a cure for insomnia.

    Honestly, I still check out the FB page of a woman I dumped two years ago. It’s usually just boredom mixed with curiosity. This may be bad to say, but I always come away thinking “whew, I dodged a bullet”.

  9. I agree with dakotag, block his sorry ass! Is there a term for someone who ghosts you, then orbits you for a few years, then randomly pops up and leaves a lame comment like “Hi, long time no see!”?? Are those landmines? Be careful where you step online or suddenly they explode and rain down bullshit all over you when you least expect it…

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