Appropriate Vs Inappropriate Social Media Messaging
Over the past month or so I have started to get more Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram followers/friend requests. I’m unsure why there has been a larger influx of requests but I thought hey, it’s good advertising for my game design. Since starting down the path of becoming a game designer I have been slowly going on podcasts, youtube channels, twitch streams and more. It has helped people get to know more about me and what I do. The only problem is I now get messages and requests from strangers. At first it was great. A friendly hello, a quick game question or praise for whatever podcast I was on. Since game design is maybe 20% networking I would typically accept friendship requests as long as we had a few mutual friends in the game design community. But one message last week in particular creeped me out.
A few things to note about this message. First, I did not accept his friendship request. If I had, Facebook wouldn’t be giving me the option to block the message. Second, I have never met this person. How can they claim to love me and want to date me? If they knew anything about me they’d know I rarely even date men. My instagram handle is @tokengaymer for a reason. I want to know what about me caused him to send the message. Does he follow me on social media? Listen to my podcasts? Read this blog? I don’t know, but this kind of advance is pretty straightforward coming from a complete stranger. I mean yes, if we had known each other for years and he expressed this affection for me I may have been flattered and then kindly refused him. But, I didn’t know this person so I blocked him before I could get any more messages. Lastly, in his profile picture he is wearing a gold wedding band...I can’t even begin to unpack why that was a good decision when messaging random women online.
That’s the thing, men seem to think it’s okay to message women their affections from afar. They see themselves as secret admirers rather than creepers or stalkers. Of course there is the fact that everyone has a different perception of a message like this. If it had been a cute girl messaging me maybe I would have replied "not interested" versus blocking the messages as I saw the little dots indicating they were about to message again. His message wasn’t outwardly aggressive or sexual but it was unwanted and inappropriate. I now worry more about accepting future requests and how openly I should speak about my life.
If you see someone online that you find attractive that’s great but don’t mix the fantasy and reality. Ask yourself, would you want a random married stranger to message you out of the blue? If the answer is no, don’t be that person. Find someone in real life to attach to. (In a normal ask someone out way and not follow them down a dark alley way.) And if the answer is yes, I guarantee if you show the message you want to send to a few friends they will all agree it’s a bad idea to send.
So, here are my thoughts on appropriate and inappropriate social media message exchanges with someone you do not know:
Sending a congratulatory message about an accomplishment.
Saying "thank you" for providing a service or valuable information.
Asking if a person would like to be on their podcast/youtube/twitch/etc.
Hiring for a job opportunity. (I do suggest using e-mail versus a message to the person’s personal Facebook.)
Asking to collaborate on a project in the future.
Saying “I love you” to a complete stranger.
Sending inappropriate sexual messages or images.
Asking someone out that you have not met or had a real conversation with.
Spamming someone asking them to subscribe or buy a product.
I’m sure I’m missing plenty of things but keep in mind that if you do not know the person, you should probably ask a friend or family member if your message will be creepy or make someone feel uncomfortable. In the past, I had a stalker in college that made me need to leave the radio program. He started by messaging me as an incoming freshmen on Facebook seeing if he could help show me around campus. Very quickly he over shared many personal details I wish I didn’t know. And when I got to campus he had himself assigned as my radio mentor. So, I was stuck in a room with him 6 hours a week having him adjust dials over my shoulder so he could get close to me while I was on air DJing.
At the time I was very uncomfortable with physical affection even from my closest friends. So, this advance was completely unwanted. He would always offer to walk me to my dorm after our shift and I would decline him. Or he’d ask me out to dinner, to a party or to go sailing on his boat. I was always polite when I declined him. (Because that’s what girls have to do.) But, as I declined he would continue to ask for more, he'd try to follow me to my dorm or he’d constantly call/text me. Because he was a senior and a manager at the radio station I had to suck it up long enough to get my grade and get out. Which stinks because I enjoyed doing radio and introducing songs. After leaving the station, I told him again in a much firmer tone that I did not want him contacting me and blocked his number and avoided him at all costs on campus. Thankfully, besides a party my junior year I never had to be in the same room with him again.
I’m sure starting out he had good intentions of meeting someone he thought he could connect with based off of shared mutual interests displayed on my Facebook page but he took it too far and didn’t respect me when I asked him to stop calling, texting and following me. If anyone asks you to stop or declines your advances multiple times, listen. They are clearly not interested in you. And, if you get blocked, don’t continue to try and reach out.
Basically, think before you message. Girls do not need more reasons to be afraid or look over their shoulder. I know many female designers that refuse to accept Facebook requests from men they have not met in person and honestly I may take up that policy. I understand loneliness can be hard but this isn’t the way to solve it.