Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Do's and Don't's of Online and Offline Conversations

Initiating conversations with people (online and offline) can sometimes be daunting and awkward. I have been in this position before and I'm more than sure many others have as well.

However, the most important thing to remember when conversing with others, is to not be a douchebag.

I am being serious.

In one of my other blogs, I highlight the messages that I received in my forays into online dating. Some of these messages are downright problematic. Here are a few examples:

"You are so cute, so gorgeous, so sexy" 

On the surface, it seems appropriate and why wouldn't it be? It's not like they said anything offensive. While I do understand that reasoning, however, I would like to point out that any time someone showers you with compliments online and in person even without even addressing your interests, is always a red flag in my experience. It could just be innocuous in it of itself, but these conversation starters tend to be red flags to others as well. It often times screams of insincerity, which I am sure is not the impression that this person wanted to give me, but it came across that way.

"and i love thick girls and i would like to get to know u more so write back and add me on fb and i would rock ur world"  (This message was sent to one of my friends)

Aside from the grammatical and spelling errors that make English Teachers cry orphan tears, the biggest problem with this message (no pun definitely intended) is the line "I love thick girls." I understand that people have preferences, however when you frame it in a statement like that, it sounds like you are fetishizing a person's body part as opposed to being attracted to their personality. Fetishization carries an ugly history considering that colonialists have sexually objectified and exploited women of color for centuries. That message is perpetuating that attitude and ideology. This also applies to POC (people of color), fat people and LGBTQA. Please stop sending messages like this, because you are unintentionally (or intentionally, if that's the case, you are a creep) sexually objectifying the person you are trying to attract. This does not work, it is a turn off. Stop it, seriously.

"Hi, how are you? You probably think I'm like all of the other guys, and I'm sure all of your dating experiences have been bad, but here I am and I would love to meet you in person so that I can treat you like the princess that you deserve to be treated."

Where do I begin with this one? I had to get several opinions on this message because it raised so many red flags, not just because of the "princess" part, it was everything else. First of all, why would this person assume that all of my dating experiences were bad? Most of my experiences were good, but we didn't click. This is common and it happens. Second of all, to want to meet someone immediately without even knowing them, is a huge red flag. Third of all, calling a grown woman "princess" is many shades of creepy. "Princess" is a term that has connotations of being spoiled with lavish gifts, that's not what a lot of people, especially women, want. Furthermore, it is a term that is often reserved for little girls, friends/family, or for actual royalty. 

So where does that lead us into the Do's? It's quite simple really:

Say "hi, how are you," "I noticed that you like (Star Wars, Dr. Who, etc), what is you favorite thing about (Star Wars, Dr. Who, etc), things like that, or you can be funny and say something like this:

"Reporting for duty! I ready to sign up for an adventure and I'm a surly poet who loves to see the universe and all the odd life inhabiting it."

The quote above works because its funny and they're playing off on the fact that I like steampunk. It's not crude, its cute.

Please do not be a douchebag while dating online and offline.

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