Okay. I absolutely love the internet. There are so many great things in that wondrous place, so much information, so much entertainment. And the rate of communication? Unparalleled. Clearly, I spend a lot of time on the internet – blogging, reading, shopping, researching, trolling – you name it. I’m there.
The aspect of the internet that I’ve become increasingly agitated with, however, is anything related to relationships. I understand, and can appreciate, that online dating is a thing, and that it works really well for some people. I’ve never gotten myself to the point where that’s what I wanted to do, but I can see its use for those who choose to go that way. What really grinds my gears is when people use your average everyday social networking sites to chat up people they don’t know from Adam. I’m not a huge fan of facebook and such anyway, but I have an account which I use to keep up with people I’m actually friends with. More often than not I can go even weeks without remembering to check and see if there are updates or whatnot (thank goodness for email notifications, am I right?)
Recently I met a whole bunch of people that one of my best friends knows. We had a really good time for a couple of hours, but I did not get to know any of them one on one. In my mind there was no reason for friend requests to be sent or numbers exchanged. And yet, by the time I’d driven an hour home, I had three friend requests. (There used to be a time when someone would ask you are you on the facebook? and you could say no and they just wouldn’t look you up. Now they just go to your mutual friend’s page and find the link to you. So unfair.) Anyway, there was one of them that I wanted to accept, so I did that, and remembering that they were all still hanging out (which means they’re all together, but on their phones) that it would be obvious that I’d accepted one and not the others. Being a pacifist, and a pushover, I added all three.
This happened about two months ago. I haven’t seen any of these new acquaintances since then. However, one of them, a guy whose name I will not use because privacy or something… (let’s call him R) not only added my on facebook, but also found and followed my instagram and my twitter, and sent me a like request to some fb page of his which links to his blog. As far as internet ‘friendships’ go, I would call this coming on strong. Especially as it was all within an hour of my accepting his friend request.
I fully understand where I fall in this world, and I know I should be flattered from any kind of attention from anybody. But honestly I just felt a little freaked out. Over the following month he would like current posts, but also photos from years ago that you’d have to really muddle through a bunch of albums to find. I shook my head and moved along.
The other day R sends me a message of the hey how’s it going, it’s been a while variety. I didn’t want to answer, but the part where I’m a pushover and don’t like to hurt people’s feelings kicked in, so after waiting about 24 hours I replied. Since my fb chat is permanently off I forgot that he could instantly see this message on his phone and reply to me. Even when not visible on fb chat he knew I was online. So he replied and I was forced to reply as well.
I tried to keep my responses simple and a little delayed so as not to seem too eager, and hopefully only have a short conversation, but he ended up spilling his soul to me and talking about how he’s okay with being single, but how it’s so very lonely and how one day he hopes to find someone who makes him comfortable and who he could talk to easily. Like you he said.
….I am sorry, but what do you say to that? Oh, thanks, you too… No. It got worse from there.
I do not even know what to do in these situations. And this has happened more than once. Truly, please tell me Men of the Internet, what kind of response are you even going for here?
I do not think that when dealing with a person you’ve actually met, that you should use social networking as a way to chat them up or even to get to know them. And I find it far, far less appropriate to contact someone in this way who you don’t know at all, or have not met. (Um, especially if they seem like they’re not at all into it.) If you have met, get their number. Call them. Ask to meet up with them, if they’re even up for that. Again, dating sites work differently, so this isn’t about that. Those people have literally signed up for that. I’m on facebook, not OkCupid, alright? That’s not what I’m here for.
And you know what’s better than even that? Leaving the phone or internet out of it altogether. How about talking to someone face to face, being direct, telling them you find them interesting, and saying hey, let’s get coffee. Or some of my friends are going hiking together next week, would you like to come? Also please don’t say ‘sometime’. If you’re interested enough to be asking a girl to get to know her, be ready to give a proximate date and time. Just please, please don’t stalk her on social networks and send much too forward messages to her several days in a row. That’s just scary.