In an ever growing world of social media, one has to be careful. What kind of human to connect with and whom better not to, is as important as your blood-pressure medication. The wrong people on your social media network can be just like high blood-pressure. These hidden, often very silent cowards read every word you write, look at every picture you post. All the while they are mentally busy, silently building an opinion on your personality, based on that content. A funny remark made by you is likely taken at face value and evaluated critically.
As a online communication professional I have learned to look for subtle signs of such confused souls. Generally, you can assume that if someone befriends you on Facebook without knowing you personally or in some professional setting, they are sniffing. Sniffing for signs that you are an evil disciple of Satan himself, a chauvinist, or even worse, not a completely brainwashed liberal nut-job. Communication with such individuals usually has a few key pointers, which can help make you aware of the stink coming from the basement. These are:
- You do not personally or professionally know that person.
- There is no direct communication between you and that person.
- Strangely and for undetermined reasons, such person may “like” your Facebook status updates (*)
- Such people may respond to things you post in a passive aggressive way or may try to one up you where they can.
- If you think deeply, before ending the connection on your favorite social media tool, it becomes apparent that they have issues with you.
(*) This is mainly used to indicate that they are paying attention to your status updates. Again, personal and direct communication will likely be absent.
When we run into passive aggressive behavior and recognize it, it is time to pack the bull by the horns and approach the issue with open and concise, clearly understandable use of language. It is important to use the so-called “senders heuristic” when approaching any such case, as you are likely approaching a person who has had more time than you to prepare for their battle. Even if using the senders heuristic, you may run into an open knife and find the individual trying to dodge you. That’s when we poke deeper and try to find out what the issue is. If you then receive an aggravated response or more dodging – or even a referral to a person they have confided in, to discuss your misconduct you definitely know that you are dealing with one sick cookie. Any further words exchanged will just give the other person more ammunition to make themselves look like a victim.
Stalkers often run on several identities, one for their sane and one for their insane behavior patterns. While most social media sites will give you tools to block and ban such individuals, it is important that you retain any and all communication, just in case the medications wear off and the person decides to report your profile.
Good rules of thumb:
If you do not personally know or maintain some sort of business/ hobby- related relationship with any given person, do not let them onto your social media tools. If you accidentally accept a friend request without previous verification of who and what you are dealing with, make sure you initiate contact to the person soon. If they don’t respond to your first contact attempt, you know that something is up. If the political party affiliation, personal values and opinions on feminism, or even religious fanaticism is prevalent upon your first visit to the profile, search for and push the “unfriend” button. Your first instinct :”I shouldn’t be having this person on my Facebook” is usually right. Go with it.
What goes without saying (almost), is that many social media networks offer several options to dictate who gets to see what of the content you post. While you cannot prevent sick twisted individuals from downloading your pictures and comments, you can at the very least make sure that your content remains borderline professional (enough to avoid shame, later on). Having a clean shirt with online drama queens is almost as important as brushing your teeth.
Credibility/ Backup for this writing:
- Gray Goatee indicating higher age.
- 10+ years as online communicator, mediator, discussion board moderator and administrator.
- Experience (recent) with online stalking.