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A Gen Z Guide to the Perfect Social Sleuth

We’ve all been caught in that crawl-out-of-your-skin-cringe-from-head-to-toe moment when you get busted creeping on social media.

That “oh sh*t can I unwatch that Story?!” accidental double-tap moment. (And if you say you haven’t been here before you are honestly a liar…) Anyway, moving on. Let’s unpack this highly important issue and master the skills it takes to become the ultimate online detective.

Rookie Mistakes:

  1. Replying to someone’s Instagram Story directly instead of sending it to a different person with commentary. We’ve all done this or have fallen victim to it at least once.
  2. Letting someone with “butterfingers” look at someones profile on your own account. You don’t need that kind of anxiety in your life. Don’t do it.
  3. Sending an accidental voice note via DM.
  4. Really deep diving (we’re talking going years back) and liking, then immediately unliking a photo. Just because a picture has both Hefe and Nashville filters on it doesn’t mean the person you’re creeping on doesn’t get that notification!
  5. Accidentally sending the person who you are talking about the screenshot you took with all the evidence. No excuse will save you from this.

Expert Tips:

  1. Instead of focusing on recent content, try lurking on an old account AKA the old Twitter feed. It’s a great way to learn where the person went to school, who they used to hang out with, what they thought was funny at the time (an underrated, yet highly valuable data point!) and more.
  2. Poke around his or her college website…. Were they on a sports team? Crazy fratboy? Part of any clubs or extracurriculars?
  3. Upgrade to a Linkedin Premium Account and reconcile the expense because you are “a mature business professional who really values networking” and getting a little dirt on someone’s new fiancé and all his ex-girlfriends.
  4. Never drink and scroll!
  5. Peep through tagged photos. Are you being catfished?
  6. OR just f*** it and make a finsta (in case you’ve been living under a rock, this means a fake Instagram.)

Between all of these new dating apps and the fact that social media has taken over the world, sometimes a little online deep dive is necessary. Everyone has a digital footprint, so let’s just call this background research on an individual in your life… or in some cases, your best friend’s life. A perfect example of this? Going out on a Hinge date with a mutual friend’s ex or planning to go on a date with someone you’ve been talking to on an app who appears to have very few photos, until you go into their tagged pics only to find, “OH! he actually has 35 tagged pictures with the same person who is actually his girlfriend!” (… sorry Anna). We made these mistakes so you don’t have to… Now, get digging! And remember, lurk with caution.

By Sydney Mastrandrea

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