Disclaimer: This is not directed at any one person. It is the product of the last few years of internet interaction, and an ever shortening fuse when it comes to this kind of issue. If you wonder “Could she be talking about me?” know that such wondering is good, but this probably isn’t about you.
Since it seems to be necessary right now, this is where I’m going to be a total and complete jerk* and lay out exactly what I do and don’t expect in terms of communication with people I don’t know on the internet.
If you want to talk to me, I’m happy to do so. I will gladly offer help with RP or cooking or writing or blogging or just chatting. Contrary to what the rest of this post will suggest, I am an approachable person.
However, if you IM me, and I don’t respond within the first five minutes, it’s probably because I am busy and have left my IM window open and active, and not because I am mean or nasty.
If you have nothing better to do than constantly send me random emails about what a bastard your coworker/mom/friend/employee/boss/relative is, particularly if when you do it, you employ sexist/misogynist/racist language… I’m not going to be particularly endeared to you.
If I am busy doing something, and I say “Sorry, I can’t talk right now, I’m busy” – please allow me the courtesy of being busy instead of continuing to spam chat at me and then getting upset when I’m not reading it. This is especially true if I’m busy enough that I’m putting up a DND/away tag, but I’d hope that the request would garner the same reaction.
Just because I have a new alt in a video game, and I may talk about that new alt on the internet, does not mean I want everyone I know to start talking to me while I’m on that alt. Especially if that alt is of the opposite faction that I normally play. If I say this to you… please afford me the courtesy to have my peace and quiet.
If you have nothing to say, IMing me to tell me you have nothing to talk about? Is annoying. Random chat is ok – I’m guilty of it myself. Constant play-by-play twitter style updates about what you’re wearing/eating/doing? Is unnecessary. That’s what Twitter is for.
I can’t solve all of your problems. I am, occasionally, in possession of a bit of life advice (especially if it’s about school, writing papers, cooking, or working on houses). I am happy to help. If you abuse that help, I will get annoyed. By abuse that help I mean you expect me to drop everything I’m doing whenever you need something. I am not on your staff.
If I feel you are abusing my good graces, I will try to change the subject, or I will start ignoring it. If that is too subtle, I will ask nicely. If nothing changes, even after my repeated attempts to say “You are annoying me with the constant blow by blow of how much your (whatever) sucks”… I will probably be less nice.
If I am the only person you ever talk to, and you send me whispers constantly the entire time both of us are online, regardless of what character/screenname I happen to log in… that’s weird. Especially if every single conversation is about you and whatever your current problem is, or about you and how awful/depressed/miserable/stressed you are**. Maybe you don’t find it weird. I find it weird, because I do, occasionally, want to talk to other people. I am not your sister, your confidant, your therapist, or your best friend***. I am someone you met playing a video game or on the internet, and I can’t solve all of your problems. If you exhibit stalker-ish behavior – even if you are doing so with the best and most friendly and lovey and wonderful of intentions – you will still creep me out.
I don’t like guessing games. Never have, never will. “Hey guess what?!” is too commonplace to really fuel the fire, but making me guess at who you are, what you did, or what awful thing happened to you today? Will piss me off. If you keep doing it, it will make me even more angry, because not only are you being annoying, you apparently don’t have the common courtesy to stop doing something someone else tells you is annoying. If “I really don’t like guessing games” is too nice… the next time I’ll be less nice.
And sadly, if at the end of all of this, you still can’t be arsed to pay attention to someone who is clearly saying “I don’t want to talk to you right now” – I will define very clearly, in no uncertain terms, when and where your approaching me is appropriate. If that’s even too hard, you will get banned/blocked/ignored. And I will delete your emails telling me what a horrible person I am for doing so.
I’m tired of being taken advantage of by people who can’t realize that someone else’s time and emotional energy is valuable, and that refuse to take very un-subtle hints. If that makes me an unfeeling, uncaring, insensitive jerk… then I guess the shoe fits.
So I’m sorry if I’ve offended your sensibilities about my character. And I really hope that people won’t label me as some cold, unapproachable asshole because I have personal space boundaries even on The Internets.
But to be quite frank, enough is enough, and I’m tired of this pattern repeating itself. This has gotten so bad that I find myself afraid to approach people for fear of coming across like one of the above mentioned out-of-balance relationships; opening a window because I’d like to ask someone something, or get an opinion or advice… only to close it because I’m afraid I’ll end up sounding like the people I’m so frustrated with isn’t fun****. I don’t like it, and I’m tired of it.
Hence this post.
*By jerk I mean simply, I am going to lay out my expectations of how communication works in no uncertain terms. This is what I want, or don’t want. Take it or leave it.
**Everyone needs a place to vent sometimes, and I’m totally OK with that. I’m not talking about “Man I really need to vent about this” – I’m talking about never having a conversation topic that isn’t you/your problems.
***This is not to deny that real, legitimate friendships can and do happen on the internet. They just don’t happen like this.
****As an illustration, I did that twice while I was writing this post. Once to ask for advice on wording something, and once because I’m not sure one of these points is clear enough to the point I want to make. Both chat windows were closed instead of sent.