Oh my god! I am being cyber-stalked! I am wondering what kind of evidence I need to make sure this person will be tossed off the net. Okay, perhaps that is a bit harsh. Merely banish them from posting in any forum in my time zone. Nope … that won’t work either. How about just prevent them from following me around forums? Nope, I don’t think can do that either. Criminey! What is it with people like that?
The internet has given freedom to people that otherwise would never be given a voice. I am taking online law classes and many of my fellow students are all over the world. That fabulous diversity can only be accomplished by use of the internet. Many of my fellow students find that they are free to say things online that they never could openly say to a neighbor or even to someone at a market. Third world countries cannot put limitations on what is said over the internet. That is a marvelous thing.
I remember when I finally took the big step and went online. Being from the old school, the internet was intimidating and a bit scary. I literally thought I might get sucked up into some great big black hole. It is probably hard for most of you to relate to this “black hole” phenomenon that I am talking about.
The first time I took part in a chat room was a bizarre and disorienting thing. You will probably not find me in a chat room again because after that one experience I received hate mail for three months. I quickly began to understand that there are guidelines to use which help protect you. I was stupid enough to enter that chat room with my email address as my identifier. Spam also haunted me until I changed my email address. Privacy is simply only as good as your settings are.
Whew … you are wondering now what I could possibly have done in only three minutes in a chat room that would warrant someone sending me hate mail for three months. You are thinking, hmmmn … what is this chick’s problem ... what could she have said or done which would cause that? Perhaps I should go see if I put her in my favorites or bookmarked her as a friend and re-think that? The irony here is that I didn’t do anything. Seriously NOTHING. The only thing I was guilty of was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Apparently cyber-stalkers need very little motivation to drive you nuts.
I have come to think of cyber-stalkers as the gum stuck to the bottom of your shoe. It gets messy and very difficult to get them off of you. The odd thing is that the more you protest the more they cling onto whatever or whoever does not want them. Why is this? I have spent some time thinking about it and have come up with an indicator.
My Grandpa called it “The Principal of Stink.” He always said “Those that stink and offend the most try to leave their scent on those they resent, do not understand, feel threatened by and/or are jealous of.” Animals mark their territory with their own brand of “stink” so perhaps this is what the cyber-stalker does.
Just when you think you have cleaned that stink off they have created a new identity to sneak up on you another way. The attraction or connection a cyber-stalker is looking for will never be found which just frustrates them further. They are looking to be validated and needed in some way but often lack the social skills to accomplish that goal. The personality of a cyber-stalker often demands attention, sees things as either right or wrong and never views things as varied shades of grey.
What can you do about a cyber-stalker? Usually the best thing to do is complain to the “management” and if possible forward messages that your new cyber pal has sent you to the “management.” The people in site management are really the only people that can help you with the gum stuck to your shoe. I would advise you to save messages from this annoying person rather than delete them as they come in handy if you need to send them to the management.
Ultimately, ignoring them seems to work most of the time. I know that is hard to do when you are being followed by the big green monster but for some reason it usually works. The last thing you need to do is give them more reason to bother you. If it gets out of hand and management cannot help there are laws about cyber-stalking so make sure you have kept all those messages and copies of posts as they will come in handy.
Lawmakers are coming up with guidelines to prosecute those which seem to go beyond simple harassment to threats. How do I know that? I am one of those drafting guidelines for those laws. I am fighting for all of us to be free from the “Stinking Cyber-Stalkers” which ruin the banter and fruitful conversation we desire in forums and commentary. Freedom of expression is a valuable component to our life. It is silly but necessary unfortunately to write guidelines in the first place. Meanwhile … why won’t those “Stinking Cyber-Stalkers” just play nice?