(Social Media) Space Invaders

I rejoined Twitter in August to create a new account that allowed me to concentrate on reading about, and talking about, writing and books and travel:

[Screen capture of my Twitter profile page, November 13, 2019.]

Yes, I do get sp*m DMs (direct messages on Twitter and Instagram) now and then. I am unfortunately familiar, for example, with (as you may be) the “Hi, how are you?” from “Mandy8561091,” or the “I have made millions, you can too!” from “Albert69699999”. But that is about the worst of it.

Those DMs I do receive from real men and real women are always about my social media, or my novels. They are usually respectful and friendly. Here is an example from my old Twitter account of a DM from early last year.

[Screen capture of a Twitter DM.]

That was from an artist who had visited my blog here. Her work has been shown at events all over Europe. Back then in early 2018, I was still unsure about my eventual Tomorrow The Grace cover, and we had a brief exchange subsequently about her maybe doing a book cover. (Which she did not do obviously – for that book at least.)

In comparison, nonsense that has nothing to do with our work or craft is pervasive on social media too. I have had a few idiots message or email me over the years, but I know I am fortunate I have never had to endure sexually suggestive DMs and emails from what appear to be real people. Obviously being a now slightly, uh, more mature man of course probably helps in that area.

I have recently seen some disturbing accounts shared on blogs and on Twitter: the targets were all – eh, whadda surprise – young women. Yet I don’t think we can honestly be shocked by that either. Young women attract (have always attracted since pre-history) men they do not want to attract, and in recent generations the lowest among those male “admirers” will also seemingly always appropriate what appears to be a wonderful relatively new invention – now, it’s social media – and turn it into something ugly and dirty. Social media’s great upside – the “social” – is also a downside in these circumstances: the sense of intimacy it also conveys is, in fact, NOT really there in the real world, but in the mind of a (to be kind) “smitten” man or (more likely) a “jackass” may make for a recipe for online trouble such as Wren Davis tweets about here:

How should you deal with it if it happens to you? First, you are definitely not alone: lots of others get the same garbage thrown at them, so don’t take it personally. If you open a DM and find an inappropriate approach, do not reply at all. Just ignore the message. Simply report and block the offender.

I have a personal rule: I do not have to respond to every nitwit who happens to have an internet connection. Just because I blog here or use other social media does not mean I am required to reply to every comment or DM or email. I respond (sometimes it may take a while, but I usually do eventually) to messages that are reasonable… and I DECIDE what constitutes reasonable. If someone comes at me in an email or a DM just looking for a private argument (I have had those), it ends up trashed. I don’t engage. Life’s too short.

Second, this is also IMPORTANT to bear in mind. If you receive inappropriate photographs, sending those photos to you probably constitutes criminal acts. There are (still) laws against p*rnography and obscenity; such pics should be reported to Twitter or Instagram (or whatever platform). My understanding is most social media companies now work closely with local police in locating an online offender. (Here in Great Britain police have long knocked on doors and, uh, will have a word if need be.)

[From Tomorrow The Grace, paperback version. My previous novels and my Dedication Page… to she without whom… Photo by me, 2019.]

Remember, your social media belongs to you. You don’t have to put up with rubbish. Don’t let the “unsocial” out there get you down.

And have a good day, wherever you are. 🙂