Yesterday I received a message from a reader about how they happened to find my blog on the world wide web and a conversation ensued around the search that led them here. Topic: Flirty Banter.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re in a sad state of affairs when we can’t even have a simple, friendly conversation with strangers, or even people we know, because one side or the other is “way too over the top” when it comes to getting their flirt on. The reader stated that it was the farthest thing from their mind to cause offense, and yet had some run-ins with friends on the subject of “flirty banter” and lo-and-behold one of my Project 365 posts popped up in the search results.
Now that they are a subscriber, and have been reading my posts and discovered I’m not completely “damn kids! Get off of my lawn!“, they felt they could write. Gosh, you know… I almost feel a bit like Dear Abby…. Anyhoo.
Here’s the thing about flirty banter: it requires finesse. Seriously, I linked that word so if you are not in the know, you can go learn what the word means. Finesse is lacking these days. It’s an artform. As DazyLady and I (and come to think of it, this is a topic that has made it’s way around the dinner table AND campfire with friends), attraction to people, same sex or otherwise, platonic or romantic, is started because of a commonality with the other person and kept going in the early stages by intrigue.
Example of a statement that used finesse, commonality and is intriguing:
“Wow! How crazy that I ran into you here at (insert your favorite coffee shop here)! I really enjoy your writing and you seem like such a genuine person; sadly, I have to run off to work right away, but I would really like to have coffee with you sometime to discuss your post on the merits of balloon animals* as I have taken up the hobby of making them.”
Example of a statement that is the opposite:
“Wow! I FINALLY ran into you here! I’ve been watching your Tweets and blog posts and asking a few people where you go for coffee and here you are. I really wanted to meet you because you’re so sexy! Can I buy you a coffee? No? Oh… yeah, work. How about a drink later? Where do you work? I could swing by and pick you up and….”
There is a big difference between the two. The first example is safe and non-creepy and uses finesse, it leaves the recipient wanting to continue the conversation. The second is “searching for my can of pepper spray and wondering why the fuck I wore high heels today because this pair is NOT conducive to running from stalkers”, aka creepy. Sadly, I get more of the latter than the former in messages and tweets which is why my comment section has “don’t be creepy” leading into it.
I don’t know if people know that they are being creepy. I think in the age of instant communication via email and texting, people are forgetting to think about what it is that they are saying to others. People say shit like the latter example and think it comes across as engaging and interesting. Here’s the thing – it doesn’t.
This goes for both men and women. That’s right ladies, I’m calling you out on this, too. The creep-factor award can go to both sexes. While I’ve had my share of male online stalkers (no bueno), I have had friends, male and female, with the crazy female stalkers and creepy women. The latter example is something that not just I get, but other people I know receive messages similar as well and it usually comes from complete strangers or people who only know one aspect of someone in an online setting.
So, as one of my friends would say, “Yo! Check yo’self!”
We don’t live in caves. We don’t need to club people over the head and drag them to our lair (yeah… I realize there are still people who think, and do, this. They need a LOT of help). We don’t need to club people over the head with our words either.
Take some time to learn the language you speak and how to use it with finesse. If you’re on the receiving end of creepy or stalkerish comments, do the world and everyone in it, a favor and call the person out on their behavior. You don’t have to launch into a speech, the simple phrase, “Wow, that was inappropriate and now I’m uncomfortable”, will work just fine. Why not just state the obvious, inappropriate and uncomfortable, true words and short, sweet and to the point.
Now that I’ve gotten your PSA out of the way for the day, I need to get some breakfast in me and get ready for work. If I run into you randomly today, as my comment lead-in says, “Don’t be creepy!”
*I haven’t written about the merits of balloon animals.