As I get more visible through my job, so has the number of weird interactions increased.
The funny thing is that when I discuss these "incidents" with male colleagues and acquaintances they're like "wow, I've never experienced anything like that!", whereas when I tell about this to any woman they not only are like "oh jeez, THAT, and THAT, and THAT too!". It's like opening The Door To The Weirdo Kingdom, wide open, and the flood cannot be stopped.
Today I re-stumbled upon this post: Ways men in tech are unintentionally sexist published in October 2014 and still sadly relevant.
"Perhaps we need a similar list for detecting creepiness", I thought.
But then I wondered if discussing this would make it worse. Maybe :-(
Alternatively: could it make people aware that they are being creepy and weird and making other people uncomfortable, and would they therefore stop doing that? HOPEFULLY :-D
So here are the things:
- Unsolicited comments on women's appearance. E.g. commenting on their avatar when it is a picture of themselves. Recently someone who I barely know complimented my bog-standard picture when my talk for a conference was announced. Why? What's the point? What does it have to do with the talk or the conference? In contrast, I've never seen compliments or discussions regarding male speakers' pictures, and I do not want to see any either!
- Sending me a link to pictures of mine from a conference. You might want to be helpful, but you look like you're stalking me.
- Sending emails asking seemingly innocuous and innocent questions that could be easily answered by using a search engine, as a way to establish some sort of contact/relationship. I find these mildly annoying, and on the long run, exasperating.
- Sending totally out of the blue emails selling yourself and attempting to impress me in order for me to date you. E.g. "Hi I saw you're a developer, I am a Very Fine Engineer with a gazillion years of experience and I love women like you". I find these extremely disturbing and I've lost count of how many I've deleted over the years.
- Finding my private email address and sending emails there if I'm not replying to work email for whatever the reason (have you stopped to consider that maybe... I AM BUSY?). This is such an invasion of my privacy :-o
- Finding my phone number and cold-calling me to discuss something I wrote on the Internet. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP :-o :-o :-o
- Confusing "following someone in Twitter/Facebook/whatever" with "therefore they shall meet me when we are in the same location". Urgh. The fact that you read somebody's updates doesn't mean they signed a contract that forces them to meet every and each one of their followers.
- Likewise, confusing "having met someone at an event, once" with "therefore they should always make arrangements to meet me when they are in my city, no matter how inconvenient that might be for them".
- Attempting to coerce me into following you in whatever social network so you have access to more data about me or do things such as sending direct messages.
- Insisting that I meet you in person to talk about whatever. Specially if we've never talked or communicated through any medium before, and essentially I have no idea of who you are or whether I should trust you at all.
- When I refuse, asking me for interesting meetups to go, to further continue the conversation. Perhaps the reasoning is that I'll cave in and finally meet you in person, I guess?
- Demanding to know where I am going to be next, so you can meet me.
- Confusing "being followed in Twitter" with "having free license to spam me with Direct Messages". Starting with the fact that twitter's direct messages are a freaking pain to manage, and continuing with the even more disturbing fact that, for some reason, people use DMs to write things they wouldn't type on an email or say face to face.
People have tried to coerce me into doing things I didn't want to do or going to places I didn't want to go; demanded an instant answer to their messages in other channels, asked me to find them a job where I work or give them advantage over other candidates, and what not.
The only solution is to unfollow them, which often ends up generating lots of hurt feelings because seemingly people can't connect the dots together and understand that they crossed "the line" way too many kilometers ago.
- Favouriting really old tweets that have not been recently referenced. Are you reading all my tweets, and why? Creeeeepy.
- Favouriting or replying to tweets that are replies to my friends, specially if the conversation started being a direct @- mention to someone. It's like someone just decided to interrupt a private conversation to say "I liked that!", or to add their own comments.
- Starting a conversation at an event with: "Well, I'm not stalking you, but...". Well, now you totally look like a stalker.
- Monopolising my time and conversations at an event. Events are for networking and talking to different people. Related: see next point.
- Cornering me, following me around, blocking my passage of way or invading my personal space at an event. Creep factor: to the next level. I'm going to avoid you forever. Also, thanks for putting me in fight-or-flight mode and ruining this event.
- Asking unsolicited and totally off-topic personal questions at an event. This is wrong in itself, but it is even worse when I am showing ZERO INTEREST in your questions, attempt to change the topic or leave, and you still go on.
- (Semi)covertly taking pictures of someone at an event, then posting them in a social network. I've seen this happen to friends of mine and it gives me the creeeps.
- At an event, handing me a drink for no reason when I don't know you (and I don't know what's in that drink either).
- Insisting in walking home / to the tube station / catch a taxi together after an event, when I don't know you. You're not respecting my right to be alone. You're also triggering an overload on the weirdometer.
- From Max Ogden: Being nitpicky about somebody else's GitHub projects. E.g. commenting on commit diffs when the project has zero followers. As Max says: "can't tell if bot or creeper". I know of a handful of excellent developers who now don't put their code in the open anymore to avoid having to deal with this kind of interactions :-(
Did I miss anything? Please add it in the comments!
Also: if you have ever done any of this: it's fine, we are human and we err. But please don't do it again, okay? And if the person you did this to is still avoiding you, please don't chase them to apologise. Leave them in peace.
UPDATE: Love that Max has named this as the "Internet Creeper Disorder".