The Internet's been described as "MTV for stalkers." So, if the Net is the information superhighway, why not be the psychotic roadside drifter? Why prove your devotion by waiting outside a suburban garage, listening to your own heavy breathing till your target comes home from a date at two in the morning, when you could just stalk them on the Internet from the comfort of your climate-controlled home?

The Internet grants an addictive illusion of omniscience. Read everything your chosen target has ever posted on newsgroups using Deja's "Posting History" feature. Finally, a use for those research skills from that worthless humanities degree! Looking for a stranger to stalk? Discover intimate personal details in naively well-intentioned diaries online!

If that's too tame, the Internet caters to other demographics too, offering a safe and relatively healthy catharsis for voyeuristic impulses. They're called Web exhibitionists! Somewhere, someone is Web-casting pictures just for you -- from coy, innocent shots in lingerie to strutting around the bedroom naked in fuzzy slippers and a rubber thong.

Web exhibitionists are the stalker bunny slope -- and there are a few drawbacks. That cute little red-head Bernadette may provoke all kinds of stalking fantasies, but if you feel like prowling around her backyard, remember: she's in Australia.

Tip #1: Stalk someone on your own continent.

Web exhibitionists are more fun in the abstract than the concrete. For instance, the Web exhibitionist at has been described as "a bisexual housewife with a free cam that let's you spy on her during the day, and watch her play with herself and friends at night." But there's always a catch. While her site offers cameras scattered around the rooms of her apartment, this usually just means frustrating hours staring at live footage of her empty bathroom. Because unlike you, she's out on a date.

If your ex-girlfriend or boyfriend isn't a Web exhibitionist, you're out of luck. Or are you? If they've registered a domain -- surprise! Their registration information includes their phone number! Call them up when you're drunk.

It's an important lesson. Until recently, the registry of domain information even included home addresses. Most people have no idea how much of their personal information is on-line. Nor do most people have any idea of how to go about getting a restraining order....

Think of the Internet as a stalker helper. If someone is using a shell account, many Internet services will automatically display the last time they logged. Try sending an e-mail that says "I know where you were last night."


AOL is a stalker's best friend. When you send e-mail to another AOL user, AOL will tell you whether or not they've read it. (Helpful hint: if you're stalking tech support, the answer is invariably "no.") And when someone is in an AOL chat room, the "Locate a Member Online" feature will tell you which one! (Cheating on your spouse online? Don't use AOL.)

AOL can even notify you the instant someone logs on. Rumor had it this feature was originally named "Stalker Tools" until they re-named it "Buddy List."

Hey there, lonely guy. Don't even have an ex-girlfriend to stalk? Then try stalking other people's ex-girlfriends! There are hours of vicarious entertainment in a newsgroup called Nudie shots with names like "coke whore," and someone called "Skunky" posting his series of pictures of "Diana" should give you a good idea of what the group's all about. Like most Internet pornography, it looks suspiciously commercial. (The tip-off is the domain name plastered over the top of the image.) Still, it's a nice fantasy if you're really bitter -- or not bitter enough.


On the Internet, the word "girlfriend" is less likely to be associated with a forum about communication issues in relationships than it is to be associated with pornography. Curiously, there aren't an equal number of newsgroups with the name "boyfriend." The explanation is left as an exercise for the reader.

Just remember that while you're stalking your ex, your employer is stalking you. In the old days, you could spend forty hours a week listening to time-of-day announcements -- but computers have changed everything. Not only does your employer know where you are 40 hours a week -- they know when you're playing Minesweeper. Workstation operating systems come with the ability to monitor what any employee is doing at any time. Remember that next time you send e-mail to your significant other gloating "Shh! They think I'm working! Haw! Haw! Haw!" All your comments are being archived in a database somewhere in Langely (or maybe Reston) Virginia.

The assholes at "Glassdog" blazed new frontiers in online stalking when they started "The Vacation Project." They take innocuous vacation photos from, say, a ski trip -- and compose an alternate narrative. ("I've got my own place in this world; I call it the abyss. I get there by shooting up about twenty minutes after I've dropped acid. Crazy, huh?")

Here's an asshole-ish idea. Ask your sister-in-law for digitized photos from her visit to Aunt Minnie -- then submit them to Glassdog.

Of course, grafting an offensive story onto someone else's photos is easy non-consensual fun. Find a teenager's earnest tribute to their prom date -- then re-write the text around the pictures.

"Ninety bucks for that outfit, and all I got was the clap. Wish I'd spent the night home alone, masturbating."

Dozens of free Web-hosting services let your doppelganger page migrate endlessly across the Web. Make sure you tip off the editor of your chosen target's high school yearbook. The moral of this story? People who put their prom photos online deserve whatever they get.

In Meet John Doe, Frank Capra argued that in these impersonal times, we never get to know our neighbors. Which means, of course, that stalking is Frank Capra-approved. At least, that's the theory behind "It's a Dysfunctional Life," which for several years has been taking photographs of people in Chicago and then putting them on the Web for people to heckle.

It's funny -- because it isn't me.