Monday, September 17, 2007

Little Stalker

I answered the phone today to my daughter’s stalker, a seven year old called Tammy who knows Scarlett’s phone number and isn’t afraid to use it. On some occasions, several times a day. Now, luckily, I’m not a big one for answering the phone, so I don’t usually have to chat to her. Nevertheless, it is a tad disconcerting to come home sometimes to find that the Little Stalker has left a sequence of messages, asking, in a faint, plaintive tone, whether Scarlett can come over for a play date.

This time, as I answered the phone, without so much as a hi or hello, a babyish voice asked, “Did Scarlett get my letter?”

I knew at once it was Tammy. My brain knotted itself into a pretzel, trying to figure out what she was talking about.

“What letter?” I finally asked.

“An invitation to my birthday party?”

“No, she didn’t.”

Long silence punctuated by wheezy breathing.

“So is she coming to my party?”

“I don’t know when your party is, but I’ll ask your mum about it, okay?”

Long silence.

“Is there anything else?”

“I just wanted to know if she got my letter.”

Oh yes, Tammy is an old style type stalker. Surely all of us have at one time or another stalked or had someone stalk us. And we all know what stalking means, or rather, what it used to mean. Phoning the guy you were in love with who would rather eat cat food than go out with you again and just listening to him saying, “Hello? Hello. Who is this?” before gently replacing the receiver and crying yourself to sleep. Not that I’ve ever done that. Okay, maybe once or twice to an ex-boyfriend I was still sleeping with who had since moved in with his girlfriend. But I digress.

Sure I’ve dabbled in stalking, but I’m simply too lazy to be full on. Sitting outside someone’s house in a car all night waiting to see their new partner or rummaging through their rubbish bin for an old pair of their socks you can lovingly treasure. Sorry, but no. It’s simply too much like hard work.

And then, hurrah, the Internet came along. And everyone who’d ever had a restraining order slapped on them breathed a huge sigh of relief, knowing that they could now cyber-stalk anyone they liked without the threat of jail time.

The only rule of cyber-stalking is, don’t be a fool and leave footprints, like Felicity Jane Lowde, who hassled
Rachel From North London on her blog to the point where Felicity found herself with a six month sentence, simply for being an enormous pain in the arse.

Don’t get me wrong, I can sympathize with cyber-stalkers. I mean, I can see how easy it is to fall into it. You read all about some person on their blog. You get a totally subjective view of the person, usually a very rosy view, since the person wants you to like them. Before you know what’s happening, you have fallen for a bunch of pixels on a screen. And say you do end up hooking up with that person eventually in the real world. What happens when it all goes pear shaped? What torture to still read his blog, read about the women he’s dating, long after he’s forgotten about you. In the old days, when relationships ended, you never saw each other again. If necessary, you moved to a new town to make a fresh start. But these days an ex-lover/blogger (blover) will be on the Internet until he decides to take down his blog. It makes moving on difficult and is fertile ground for stalk-maniacs to take the final leap into insanity.

There’s this stubbly, unwashed guy at the library where I sometimes go to use the Internet, who I know for a fact sits there all day, every day, writing emails to a woman called Sophie. If I sit next to him I read his stuff, and it’s always a very very long email about some long held grudges: “I don’t know why it ended, maybe I couldn’t give you what you needed but the way it ended was simply so wrong you were so cruel. Why did you hurt me the way you did and go off with my best friend Greg I trusted him to drive you to the airport how was I to know that he’d book a ticket and fly off with you to San Francisco you bitch Sophie how could you do that to me etc. etc.”

I’m not sure if he actually sends these emails. But if he does, I’m pretty sure Sophie doesn’t read them.

It’s kind of admirable that he keeps going though. Warms the cockles of my heart. Ah, ain’t love grand?

15 comments:

MarkF said...

Lowde was a little more than a stalker - she was in the eyes of some ill. There's a very good summary of the story so far at :

http://www.ministryoftruth.org.uk/2007/06/02/narcissus-has-turned-to-a-flower-a-flower/

She's also back out in the community pending an appear on her conviction and blogging again and has already managed to close down someone else's blog :

http://rikaitch.blogspot.com/2007/09/felicity-j-lowde.html

Gorilla Bananas said...

Tammy sounds sweet, but then she's a child. It's the adults who go bonkers. Chickybabe says she has a stalker who just goes through her blog archives every day. He/she doesn't comment or e-mail her, but just goes through her archives. It seems to be upsetting her, but is she over-reacting?

Fluence said...

I've got a bit of a history of dabbling in stalking, and I do still see the appeal. If you're not actually in a relationship with someone it's easy to make them seem to fit an ideal you have, you're obsessed with your own fantasy, not a real person.

I know cyberstalking is a problem for lots of people, but at least the sheer amount of stuff you get on a blog makes it more likely someone will see something to make the fantasy and reality jar. In my experience this is what makes me wake up, they're not the perfect embodiment of my dreams, they're just another human being, who I'm probably freaking out a bit.

Vi vi vi vooom!!!!!!!! said...

It's when your blog stalker keeps asking 'what you are wearing' and wants you to send photos that creeps me out. Luckily, this one isn't in the same country as me!

Sailor said...

The little ones can be cute when they call, etc, but watch out!

Wait until she's big enough to RIDE HER BIKE OVER!
Yep, next thing you know, she'll be pedaling up and down the street in front of your house, waiting for Scarlett.
SLEEP OVERS!
That, of course, leads to "staying up all night mommy" (or until they fall asleep, exhausted, at 1030).

And then, you know, it's too late.
So, be careful of the wee stalker!

kimba said...

I.
have.
stalked.

I have been told that I stalked by the stalkee.. he closed down his blog.. a few times.. and then emailed me and sent me his picture.. because he missed our conversations..

We haven't stalked (I mean talked) for a while now..

Gumpher said...

I've never been stalked, I almost feel left out

~gkw said...

I was just going to say... looking at my statcounter it doesn't look like I'm being stalked.. where is everyone? Looks like I would run across one half-crazed lady to stalk me at least a little! I feel so rejected....

EmmaK said...

markf...true, Lowde is totally nuts, I was just making the point that you can go to prison for cyber-stalking, which I actually didn't know.

gorilla bananas...I don't think Chickybaby is overreacting. There's something disconcerting about someone just rifling through your archives and not contacting you, a bit like someone breaking into your house just to rifle through your underwear drawer perhaps? ;)

fluence...I think that bloggers really set themselves up for stalking (unintentionally) because they portray their everyday life, and consequently an unbalanced person can start to think of a certain blogger as a friend even if you know only what they are telling you which is in itself subjective (I will come clean here and say that I have had blog crushes and I'm not afraid to admit it). Okay, so bloggers don't sugar coat their lives and present idealized existances like the lives of celebrities, but I think bloggers should be aware that there are people out there who feel intimate with them even though they have never spoken or contacted them. It's a very disconcerting thought!

vi...I can help you with that. Next time your blog stalker asks you what you are wearing say: An incontinence pad and some stretchy brown navel high granny pants. If he's still keen, call the police.

sailor...Luckily it's too far for Tammy to pedal over. She is harmless. If she lived next door I wouldn't care if she sat outside my house waiting for Scarlett, but I'm just too lazy to keep driving over to Tammy's house for playdates.

kimba...Your stalker sounds like a rather confused individual. Problems with intimacy perhaps? ;)

gumpher / gkw...my sympathies to you both. You are absolutely no one in the blogosphere until you have had your first blog stalker. Might I suggest putting some provocative photos of yourselves on your blogs to get a potential stalker to start a campaign of nuisance emails into your inboxes?

Conortje said...

I'll happily stalk someone if they promise to return the favour

electro-kevin said...

I suppose the amount of saddos locked away in darkened rooms makes the odds of stalking higher on the internet.

Quite tragic really.

Tammy sounds a sweety BTW

BenefitScroungingScum said...

I'm really sorry to be the one to break this news to you Emma but....there's a disturbingly large number of men who get off on the whole incontinence pad/granny pants type thing. I'd suggest running for the hills, except I can't, which seems to excite these fuckers even more. It's a sick world ;)

having my cake said...

The world is full of strange people. Trust me, I know... I work with THE PUBLIC!!!!

Annie Rhiannon said...

Or when two bloggers are in a relationship and then break up, like that pair in America, and we get to hear both sides.

Kira said...

I know for a fact that I had several cyber stalkers. i was smart enough not to blog about them though.
and of course i'm nosy and have done my share of cybersleuthing about exes. not due to longing but due to nosiness and wanting to know if they were still alive!
i would never contact someone and hope no more contacts I get are from exes. it's just too weird!