Nice…Bordering On Creepy

Sitting behind our computers or our smartphones tends to bring out the BOLD in each of us.

This is one of the things I love most about Social Media. I meet strangers everyday. I go out of my way to compliment people I have never met. I know what thousands of people are up to without them knowing I am quietly stalking their every move.

But every once in a while, I read a tweet or a comment and my tiny arm hairs stand on end.

It just reads wrong. It is usually a compliment of sort, some nice words of encouragement from a total stranger. But more accurately, the words are nice bordering on CREEPY.

The exact same thing could be said by someone else, anyone else, and I would think absolutely nothing of it. But something, I assume my intuition, alerts me that these words are different, that this sender might not have altruistic motives, that I might have something to fear.

Suddenly I feel uncomfortable at the way I am exposed.

Still, for me, the pros of Social Media outweigh the cons. I will continue to put myself out there. But maybe just a little more cautiously?

Does this ever happen to you? How do you deal with it?

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Lindsey has a sincere love for her precious dogs Molly and Maisy, a good red wine and the Delta Sky Club. She spends her days (and some nights) laboring to end childhood hunger at Feed the Children and to gather, equip and unleash women at IF:Gathering.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I've never experienced that personally but I completely understand what you are saying.

    Sometimes I'm about to send a tweet to someone and I stop and think about it and wonder how it will be received, Twitter loses the benefits of vocal inflection, body language and facial expressions.

    I hope I'm not one of those who makes you feel stalked 🙂

    My recent post What would you do?

  • The fact that you're aware of it is probably enough.

    You can delete questionable comments, unfollow questionable Twitter followers and unfriend questionable Facebook friends.

    It's a comfort issue. Some people have a very low risk tolerance. Others, high. It's best to function within your own personal comfort zone. And the higher your profile, the more you attract weird people who will make one's "tiny arm hairs stand on end".

    My short-take: it's worth the risk to stay in the arena.

  • One observation I've made is that some people simply want to use me as a broadcast channel.

    The only truly creepy stuff I get is the spam from p0rn sites which gets a quick delete. Makes me want to lock my comments.

    Oh and there was a curious follow from a pastor that ministers to UFO seekers and other similar people… 😉 (Cue X-files music)

    I'll only follow people if I think they will add value to my ministry life, personal life or faith journey.

    My recent post 10 Communication Commandments: Commandment No. 7

    • My stepdad needs that. Drives us crazy with his UFO shows *rolls eyes* hahaha.
      My recent post Love It. -1

  • I can't say this has ever happened to me but I'd imagine it would be creepy. Kinda like someone you least expect to say something nice about you then they do.

  • listen to your intuition. Sometimes it just knows better than you.
    My recent post Not Enough French? Give Me A Break.

  • Ah…so that's why you don't respond to any of my comments anymore. 😉

    I can't say I've had the kind of comments you received but my old blog used to have some hateful stalkers that would insult me, my wife and my children. A few times their comments bordered on outright threats. (The blog was more political in nature and you know how that can make people.) Eventually I would just ban the IP addresses of these people, defriend them on Facebook or anyplace else where I would be connected to them.

    Now, if I only had one comment from someone that made me feel a little creeped out…I probably would let it pass. If it was persistent…I'd cut 'em off.
    My recent post There's a lot to talk about

  • Yes, it has happened to me. Totally weird but I pretend it's not. Until there's another one.

    I usually delete the user or follower if things get crazy. One time a blog commentor made it a point to lambast me and other readers. On every post. Yeah, he got nix quick!

    What do you do?
    My recent post pleasing aroma…

  • Yeah…there are always people out there wanting to push it a bit sometimes. Their so called anonymity gives some boldness they otherwise would not have. Sadly,some people just get a perverse pleasure in creepin others out…it’s a control issue. Just listen to that little voice saying…BEWARE…it’s usually right.

  • Whether it is online or in person, there is something innate in all of us that knows when something doesn't feel right. I know that I am a little more leary of folks online, but I try to think that no one is out for malicious intent.

    I, agree with Jason, that if its persistent – you need to say "Hasta la Vista, Baby", as only Arnold can.
    My recent post Seeing God in the Rain

  • Hey! I REALLY WAS just trying to be nice! 🙂

  • I don't think I've ever felt unsafe, but I don't put myself way out there either.

    I have seen conversations that I thought people were crossing lines and maybe losing their grip on reality a bit though. It is a challenge to remember sometimes that I've not met most of these people face to face. When you "bump into" them on several different blog comments and on Twitter and see their facebook page and whatnot, you almost feel you know them better than you do the people who live next door (you only know what kind of car they drive and when they leave and return from work)!

    Our new reality (?)…
    My recent post Help Haiti Live, February 27

    • Yes, I hope someone would tell me if something comes across creepy instead of just blocking me. But I am not sure I would do that so I shouldn't expect them to…

  • Was it something I said ? 😉

    • um…yeah. a little scared you might poison my pork. kidding. kidding. your pork tenderloin was so good, i'd eat it even if it was poisoned.

    • Ha ha! I can't wait to meet you.

      Is that too creepy?

  • So far I've not had any of those on twitter. Have had some spam comments on my blog which I quickly delete. We all just need to use common sense and if it's something that makes you feel like it's a bit borderline I agree wtih the above and delete it.
    My recent post Healing Promises by Amy Wallace & Giveaways begin tomorrow!!

  • I've had a few persistently creepy guys.

    Wait it out. See if it happens again. (Sometimes tone is hard to assess online). If it does, ban the IP address and de-friend on Facebook. If you still get messages (through online contact forms, etc.) just ignore, ignore, ignore.

    Listen to your instincts, girl. A woman's intuition is usually right! 😉

    (Oh. And thanks for blogging – you know, putting yourself out there, subjecting yourself to criticism, and occasionally fielding off weirdos. As readers, we are so glad you keep writing!)
    My recent post 40 Ideas for Lent

  • I usually just picture those people with creepy mustaches.

    (sorry, not helpful at all, I know)
    My recent post Love It. -1

  • This has only happened to me a few times (I would assume it is a more regular occurrence for females). Generally, I just won't respond. Sometimes though, I try to be just as awkward and weird to them (without being offensive/creepy). Usually freaks them out and they don't say much anymore. Turns out they aren't so bold. Then I laugh.
    Social media does lend itself to some awkward situations and creepiness, but I'm with you, the pros far outweigh the cons.

  • I think women would be more sensitive to this than most men, but I have had some women contact me in various social media contexts that made alarm bells go off. The best solution is to cut off contact as completely as possible, depending on the channel (de-friending, blocking, ignoring, reporting as spam or abusive as a nuclear option).

    But like face-to-face contact, the good far outweighs the creepy.

  • Personally, I think I have tweets or comments that are misunderstood. Maybe they are creepy, but there are times where I will say something and people will either not understand or take them the wrong way. That is one of the biggest things about social media that is tough, people can take your words to mean whatever they want and you can never get them back.

    I try not to be a creeper, especially to women. I do not want to seem like some lame guy that is trying to hit on them or talk to them….I am really just enjoy talking to them and connecting through social media. But you never know, I could be one of the first guys to tell my kids that me and your mother met on twitter…
    My recent post Visioneering Mentorship

    • you don't come across as lame. i always appreciate what you have to say.

  • As a first time commenter, I hope this comment isn't taken as "creepy", but I agree.

    Online communication can fall under the weird category that if it was said face-to-face, it would be completely normal. 🙂

    My recent post Making the World a Better Place – A Call to “Pay it Forward”

  • ummm yes. actually just had a creeper the other day. after a very nice tweet from a complete stranger, he followed it up with a DM– "btw r u on FB?" that one was a little more obvious & definitely wierded me out. it quickly turned my thought process from "oh that was nice" to "eeek. that's creepy"

    i always hope that my tweets of encouragment and admiration are recieved as just that, but i do stop sometimes & think before i click send .. ."am i the one that's teetering on creeper status with this?" 🙂

    i'm most definitely more bold in the social media world, but i like to think it's helped me to make me a little more bold (in a good way) face to face. it's also helped me to truly connect with people in the social media world that add a lot of value to my day & the life i'm trying to live and that i probably would've never had the chance to "interact" with otherwise.

    • I echo what you are saying. I love the part of Social Media that makes me a little bolder. I too find myself taking more risks in real life too. 99 times out of 100 I love the random tweets of encouragement. It is just every once in awhile. I will have find myself feeling just a little uncomfortable.

  • It's interesting, because I think some view online as a "real" relationship and others don't hold that view. If what I glean from blogs, tweets and FB is more than I glean from my face to face interactions, it makes sense that I view both online and offline as "real".

    Social Media and marketing is very interesting to me. It works on me. If a blogger I know and respect says that a book is really good, I'll look into it and perhaps buy it. If they love a certain artist or musician, again, I'll explore that and buy their album on iTunes.

    Is that creepy? I wonder at times if it could be seen as such. I don't actually know the person that recommended it. Why do I trust them Why respect them? Why read every blog post they write? Perhaps I am viewed as creepy!
    My recent post Isaiah 58

  • I try to avoid anything that could be misconstrued as creepy at all costs. I probably over edit myself. I’ve talked myself out of sending more @ replies than I’ve ever sent.

    I like to joke with people, and send encouraging messages sometimes, but I usually wait until I’ve built some of a rapport with them.

    Some people are just naive about online interaction, because it’s doesn’t feel the same as interacting in person. My rule is: if you wouldn’t say something to a stranger on the street, you might want to avoid it online as well.

  • Oh no! Seriously, I’m an old lady and those instructions I sent you about “hosing out your nose” were legit! That being said, follow your instincts 🙂

  • Chrystie

    This made me giggle. I have not received a comment or seen a tweet that freaked me out before. But, I have often wanted to hit the retract button on something I have put out there. Sigh.
    My recent post Pick Me, Choose Me, Love Me

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  • Okay, YES. Thanks for saying it!!

  • I don’t think that has ever happened to me, but I always am afraid that I might be the one freaking people out, accidentally of course. 🙂

  • Kim

    Creepy = caution. I had someone visit my sites and then show up unannouced at my house for an autograph this past Christmas. He had bought my book and was going to surprise his wife with an auto copy. I was stunned. I asked (conversation took place between and behind glass security door and 25lb toothy cat at my side) how he found me and he said, through white pages online. ( I pay good money to keep my number and address unlisted in regular phone books). Sure enough, the places where I had been making online purchases sold my private info to third parties — like whitepages.

    Thankfully, timing was on my side; my hubby pulled up in his police car and walked up behind him.

    I try to be careful and give thought to what I say to others. And more so: carefully word where I'm at and what I'm doing. I feel we are all given that 'hmm' gift–hmm meaning something isn't quite right. And to go with it.

  • Can't say it's happened to me…but I have a high "creep tolerance."

    I can think of plenty of people who have gone through the same scenario as you.

    My recent post Don't Give Up Anything For Lent

  • Tracy

    I have taught my kids that if something seems "off", then it probably is. Sometimes our instincts are at odds with years of being told to be polite and give people the benefit of the doubt and that can put us in danger. You don't have a true relationship with someone that you only talk to in a public forum and people who forget that have taken the first step into creepiness!

  • I went to a party where I didn't know anyone on the evite list, but the hosts. A woman I did not know answered the door, took a good look at me and yelled "hey, everyone @maurilio is here!!" Now, that was creepy!!
    My recent post How Social Media Enables Intimacy

  • I went to a party where I didn't know anyone on the evite list, but the hosts. A woman I did not know answered the door, took a good look at me and yelled "hey, everyone @maurilio is here!!" Now, that was creepy!!
    My recent post How Social Media Enables Intimacy

  • I haven't been the recipient of such, but I have seen them directed at other Tweeps and bloggers. When telling DH about them, I describe them as the "trying too hard" type. And like a previous commenter, I have talked myself out of 2/3 of my @ replies to make sure I'm not coming across that way.

    I was part of a couple of online communities before the advent of Twitter, FB, MySpace, etc. I saw enough lines crossed between IRL and online worlds that it has always made me extra-cautious about what I put out into cyberspace. I have probably loosened up some, and I'm sure I lose some degree of relationship potential, but it's partly how I minimize my creep-attraction factor.

    Mary Hampton

  • annie

    I have to say that I worry about being misunderstood a lot. Not only that, but people use social networking in different ways, with different levels of perceived relationship.

    This will probably be unpopular, but I think you have to give people extra space if you talk about yourself or intimate topics, as opposed to strictly professional. Getting an overly personal response to a blog in which I review a new album or movie is way more creepy than getting an intimate response to a post about my personal love life, dating, fertility, religion, family, etc. If we, as writers, open that door in a forum that allows personal interaction in nearly real-time, we must be careful not to fault people too quickly for stepping through. If we find that some responses are making us uncomfortable and want others to have boundaries with our authentic and intimate selves, sometimes we have to reassess the boundaries in what we are sharing.

  • So–after thinking about for the past two days, I'm wondering how to move cautiously. I want to auto-follow on Twitter but i'm so afraid of the repercussions. Suggestions on how to monitor Twitter?
    My recent post Friday Video Post: youth ministry and the ONE…

    • Bianca, I don't so much monitor who is following me but rather what I tweet. I assume shady people are stalking me. I don't tweet when I am out or home alone. I usually tweet/check in on 4Square as I am leaving someplace instead of when I get there. Make sense?

  • Hi Lindsey!
    My name is Mandy- I'm new to your blog.
    I totally agree with your nice bordering creepy feelings. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but sometimes it just doesn't "feel" right. I guess that's the stuff we have to deal w/ in the social media world.

  • tam

    "Does this ever happen to you? "

    yes. your last tweet to me. something about "on my way".

    kidding.

    seriously…it does happen. and ive found it happens, to me, more with women than men. ive not read thru all the comments here and dont know if anyone else has that problem. i cant explain it, but it happens.

    like dubdynomite said above re: building rapport…some people dont take the time to do that and just jump right in…then its just awkward and uncomfortable. but i usually tell them theyre weird

  • it's happened to me too. i usually just don't respond if it's borderline creepy. if it's blatantly creepy i'd probably un-follow.

    i had a blog commenter who frequently crossed the line. i never deleted his comments, but stopped responding to him and visiting his blog. he eventually got the hint. after several months, he disappeared entirely.
    My recent post gettin’ my smile back