Love in the time of textual harassment

Image: The Kiss Wall on Brighton seafront (credit: Fast Eddie 42)
Image: The Kiss Wall on Brighton seafront (credit: Fast Eddie 42)

I met my wife when my internet access was restricted to a 36 kps modem at one computer in my office, next to the fax machine in the secretaries’ room.

I bought my first mobile phone after we’d been together for about six months. It would be a year or two before text messaging started in the UK.

Image: What my first phone looked like - what the image doesn't show is the credit card sized SIM card or the massive brick-sized battery.
Image: What my first phone looked like – what the image doesn

If we phone one another in the day during that honeymoon period it would be on a land-line. That would happen maybe once a day.

I had email. She didn’t.

So… I have no idea what online dating, or the early stages of a relationship conducted in the modern world is like. I’ve never had a Facebook status other than married and I’ve never had to de-friend an ex and divide up our friends online like so many paperback books.

Have some sympathy, then, for today’s yoot. While it may be easier to meet potential partners, once you have the etiquette is shifting as fast as the technologies and if you happen across someone whose boundaries are different to your own, there might be trouble. Your web shadow, social network presences and always-on personal comms device (mobile) mean that when things you don’t like kick off they kick off fast.

Encouraging, then, to see sites like offering teens a helping hand with dealing with a terrifyingly long list of behaviours that might upset them, including:

  • Cyber-bullying
  • Pestering via email and texts
  • Malicious slander
  • Hacking email and social network accounts
  • Asking for inappropriate photos
  • Posting said photos online

The has advice, spaces to discuss these issues and an amusing/disturbing set of “call-out cards” you can send / post to a harasser’s web page by way of a hint to them to back off (a selection of which are below)…

Image: Call out cards
Image: Call out cards

Via Dirk at Herd

5 responses to “Love in the time of textual harassment”

  1. Much of this is true to me also Anthony. Whilst you and I obviously use the toys of social media and communications technology avidly now, I wonder if we are still wired a bit differently as we did not use them for/as part of our formative years and or some of those big milestone events?

  2. Definately not just teenagers, but all certainly true. And I think david brian may be right too; I have no clue on the etiquette of how FB et al fit into dating – dare I say it – at our age! There certainly does seem a point in a new relationship though when it seems too early to be added as a friend. And can you imagine the awkwardness if someone set their status to say they were in a relationship with you and you didn’t agree. Be glad you dont have to worry about it!!

  3. Antony Mayfield Avatar
    Antony Mayfield

    I wouldn’t discount that people think differently as a result of growing up with these kinds of technologies, but I would temper that observation with:

    * We’re social animals and take to these tools naturally…
    * We re-wire our brains pretty quickly – it’s more about how much you use the tools and how often than how old you are – I have many geek friends who are far more web media literate than my teenage younger brother…

  4. I work in a youth campaign and most of my colleagues are in their early twenties (i.e. way younger than me!)

    It’s fascinating to be around them when they’re checking out each other’s potential dates on Facebook.

    For example, imho they see people’s photos as performative rather than realistic i.e. people portray a bit of a fake image, but how they fake it also tells you something about them.

    For a slightly different take on tackling harassment, did you see Holla Back NYC?


  5. Dan – that’s a really interesting insight about performative vs. realistic representations, and how young people read them.

    I’ve seen the Holla Back NYC thing before – it’s very interesting. On the one hand empowering, on the other hand wandering close to social media vigilantism…

Leave a Reply