While Google-stalking is a more discreet way of spying on your ex than say, digging through his trash or driving by his house, it doesn't mean you should do it. Below are three reasons to put down that mouse and slowly back away from the search engine.
Unlike old-school stalking, Googling allows us to dig up dirt from the comfort of our office chairs, making researching an old flame as easy as typing their name into a search box. But what do random tidbits like his marathon finish time or a MySpace comment he left really tell you? Not much, according to blogger and MoxieintheCity.net founder Chris Marashio. "Whether it's an article or a posting on a forum, what you see online is not an accurate reflection of who a person is. It only gives you snapshots of their life which can be misconstrued," says Marashio. For those who still can't help poring over their ex's every blog entry and Flickr photo in an attempt to deduce his current state of mind (and heart,) be warned you may also find information you'll later regret stumbling onto. "I found a photo of my ex-fiancÃ© with his new girlfriend and realized [from the date] he had started seeing her while we were still together," says Jane Smith (not her real name.) "It made me sick all over again."
He Will Find Out
Just because you are trolling the web in private, doesn't mean the object of your obsession can't see you. Whenever your computer connects to the Internet, it is assigned an IP or Internet Protocol address. Similar to a street address, it identifies your computer and allows it to be located within a network. While an IP address may not contain enough information to personally identify you (at least not without a court order) many businesses and schools' IP numbers contain their names within them. So it may not be hard for your ex to put two and two together and figure out that it was you snooping around his blog. Facebook, MySpace, and other social networking sites all have their own tracking devices these days as well. Some like Friendster have even made theirs public, allowing users to see who is viewing their profiles. So if you wouldn't call his number and then hang up, don't do the cyber equivalent and allow him to see that you're still pining over the relationship.
It Prevents You From Moving On
It's one thing to search once out of curiosity, it's another if your browser automatically inserts his name when you pull up Google. While some may argue Internet lurking is just harmless fun, you may be causing more damage to yourself than you realize by stirring up old emotions. Most relationship experts and self-help books recommend not contacting your ex after a breakup in order to give yourself time to heal, but by keeping tabs on his online activity, you are preventing this from happening by causing yourself to think about him more. Although needing to know in the midst of heartbreak is natural reaction, you must shake your Google addiction if you ever hope to move forward.
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