Yesterday I had a spare half an hour. Well not, strictly speaking, spare – it was the half hour between scoffing my ham sandwich and getting my head back down to work. Thirty minutes of procrastination time, a sort of lunch-to-work decompression chamber if you like.
There are many useful things that I could have done with this little window of time. I could have:
- Telephoned the dentist and made check-up appointments for the three of us
- Emptied my bulging purse of receipts and updated my accounts
- Taken the dog for a scamper around the field
- Made menu plans for the week ahead like a proper grown up parent
- Called a far away friend for an overdue catch up
- Got my head back down to work half an hour ahead of schedule
What I did NOT need to do was:
- Scan the Mail Online showbiz pages to find out that Keira Knightly went for a walk wearing a leather jacket
- Buy a £2.00 scratch card on the National Lottery website and not win anything
- Order an enormous bag of polystyrene beads from Amazon
- Worry that my sometimes inappropriate sense of humour means I am destined for early onset dementia (what’s not to like about Mr Bean?)
And what I really, REALLY did not need to do was to indulge in gratuitous Google stalking of people I am no longer in touch with. Don’t ask me what sparked the urge to try and find info on friends of old, it is like a drug or porn addiction (I imagine…), once you have typed that name into the search box you can’t step away from the screen until you have dug down through pages and pages of results like an archaeologist on speed.
There are endless sources of potential stalker gold – Facebook, LinkedIn, You Tube, Instagram, company websites, personal websites, blogs, businesses and databases, all offering titbits of info on people you used to know.
But do you actually want to know? Is anybody genuinely delighted to find out that the person they used to work with years ago is now at the top of their career game, enjoying a blissful marriage, raising perfect kids, having a novel published whilst launching a million pound start up business from their kitchen table? Oh, and to cap it all, in that photo they look like they have not put on a pound or gained a wrinkle in fifteen years.
I’m so pleased for them!
I. Am. Really. Really. DELIGHTED.
Of course the flip side would be to find out that said person/people have suffered sadness and misfortune. I would like to think that I not a sufficiently bad person to be pleased if this was the case. It has never happened so we’ll never know. Generally the fruits of Google stalking are like the Christmas round robin letter – good news and boasting only, the everyday irritations of life left unmentioned.
The moral of the tale is that Google stalking never pays. There is a reason that you are no longer in touch with that person who you suddenly need to know about, best remind yourself of that reason and leave it at that. The next time half an hour falls into your hands get on the phone to the dentist, sort your accounts or walk the dog. You’ll thank me in the long run, I promise.