Confession time, kids. I am guilty of buddy stalking. (You know you all are too!) Every one of us has, either in the past or at this very moment, people on our buddy lists that aren't really our buddies. Be they a friend's ex, the guy your sister has her eye on, or that girl you despise with every fiber of your soul for she is a horrible person. (Guilty, guilty, and guilty but entirely shame-free.) Whatevs. They're occasionally people you've stopped speaking to (guilty). A lot of the time, they are people you have never spoken to, in any capacity. (Guilty again!)
There are a lot of reasons to keep up with this practice. When your BFF breaks up with a boyfriend, she deletes him from her life. But just in case he posts a particularly hideous picture or says something embarrassing, you're there to ride in like the Cavalry with the good news!
I'm trying to think of other humanitarian-sounding reasons for it, but really they're all just about gossip.
But you know something? I'm beginning to think stalking people on AIM (/Facebook/MySpace/etc) isn't really a good idea! Not because I feel bad or anything. Let's not lose our heads. It's handy information and you always want to keep an eye on anyone whose wedding you might have to attend one day.
So...a couple days ago someone signed onto my buddy list and I had no idea who it was. There was not even the slightest glimmer of recognition. I had nothing. It had to be a recent addition, since I had never seen it before. But that didn't really narrow it down. It's not like it's something you can ask people about! "Hey, are you into a guy with this screen name?" "Does your crazy ex girlfriend go by this name?" It just sounds bad! They're embarrassing phone calls to make! You obviously don't want to send the person an instant message! That would be even worse! Having to explain that you know them but you don't know them know them. Could they give you some personal information, please? No, I'm not a creepy stalker, but maybe you know a friend of mine? I just have your name because...she...needed...to use my computer for an AIM emergency?
See? Nothing really sounds good in that case. I finally succumbed to my curiosity and called my best friend. She was the most likely candidate. I left her a pitiful voicemail, full of self-loathe. And while she did come through with the information I needed (a horrible, creepy former suitor of hers) she also told me I was ridiculous. I think it was a loving gesture, but it's not out of the question to assume there was a small dose of serious concern in there.
But omigod you should read his away messages.