Unsocial Media

I have a page on Facebook for my writing and I also have a Twitter account. I created both of these social mediate accounts for the purpose of “building my brand” and making people aware of my existence as an author, programmer, and web designer. That’s the cool thing about social media. You can promote yourself without spending a lot of money on advertising.

One of the disadvantages of social media, however, is the intrusion into your life.

Since I started my Facebook page, in particular, I have had men send me text messages with greetings like, “Hello pretty lady!” or “Hey, beautiful.”

I haven’t talked about this before because I have had a difficult time deciding how to present my case. On one hand, it feels creepy. Would they address a strange man as, “Hello, handsome?”

On the other, maybe it’s totally innocent and I’m just being vain in thinking that a bunch of strange men want to hit on me. After all, I am old enough to order from the Senior Menu at Denny’s. My body is fat, my hair is thin, there are definite wrinkles around my eyes, and it is no secret that I’m married. Maybe these are not sexual advances; maybe these men feel that I would be fun to talk to, but it feels like a come-on and I don’t like it.

In addition to any sexual component to these communications, it also occurs to me that it is arrogance on anyone’s part to think that people are available to chat at any hour of the day or night. If I showed up at their place of work and started chatting as they restocked the shelves at Walmart or made fries at McDonald’s, how long before they told me to go away because they are busy? Okay, that was deliberately nasty. I’m sure these men are not all minimum-wage workers. And yet, you see my point.

If I could contact Stephen King directly, I wouldn’t approach him with “Hello handsome, how was your day?” I would ask him a question about his writing or one of his books. I would comment on something he had said, or done, or anything other than what sounds like an attempt to lure him away from his wife.

And, if these approaches are sexual, it makes me wonder if anybody other than straight men approach people of the sex in whom they are interested in the same way.

But the ultimate question is: how do you discourage it without being rude? Can you?

At first I would respond. I figured if I was friendly, we could have a short conversation and they would lose interest. It doesn’t work. Responding seemed to indicate to them that I was just as interested in a relationship as they were. More than one told me that we were meant for each other. So I started ignoring these messages. That doesn’t really work on Facebook. It makes it seem as though you are ignoring people out of laziness or inattention.

So what’s a person to do?

If you use social media to promote yourself, do you have this problem too? I’d love to know how you are handling it.