Another week, another series of important, serious questions that only a bastard could answer with any degree of certainty.
My question for next Monday. How can I get to know someone(s) (ok a guy or two) over email and IM? What are good questions to ask to make sure they are not serial killers?
This is an excellent question. I am also positive that there will be a lot of feedback to my answer, given the number of folk who have started their relationships “online.” There are a few tips and tricks you can do to prevent yourself from being killed by an internet serial killer (of which i have not heard of any).
First and foremost, recognize that internet etiquette is similar but not exactly the same as regular etiquette. Getting back to someone online should be fairly prompt; however, there are circumstances where one may not respond as quickly as they should.* Typically if someone is “really into you” and not looking to “just be a friend,” 24-36 hours is a reasonable response time for serious emails. IM is a bit different. I often log off quickly without saying goodbye, even when I am not at work. This isn’t necessarily kosher, but I truly doubt that I am the only one.
Most of the time I IM, its a fairly casual conversation about work, WoW, nerd stuff or music. If the conversation is more serious, I make sure to fill said person in on factors that may limit my participation. For instance, if I am at work, I make sure to say, “gotta go, someone needs the computer,” or something similar.
If said guy cannot be bothered with simple internet etiquette, you should be a bit wary.
What are you talking about when emailing or Iming? If he does not make any comments or statements that make you uncomfortable while conversing, that is a good sign.
Before you ask any questions, remember how you met these guys. Dating service, mutual friends? From there you have a whole list of questions to ask. As long as he stays non-creepy in his responses, you’re good to go.
As for other questions: ask about music, books, what he does in his free time, TV, Radio and family. Notice the similarities and the differences: If, for instance, he talks about loving a certain pop-act that you cannot stand, grill him about it. Don’t let him get away with saying, “I just like it.”
If you want to know if he’s a psycho, there is the Hare Psychopathy Checklist–that’s more reliable than the big three.** That is the only test I would rely on. If he’s responses seem glib, irresponsible or angry, dump him.
If you are super comfortable, you arrange a meeting with friends in the wings. If it doesn’t go well, you use the predetermined sign and get the hell outta there.
What is the line between trying to be a better person and trying to be someone you aren’t?
Another fantastic question. To be a better person, one has to be oneself. This seems trite but it is true. A better person is true to their nature, not absorbed with what they are “supposed” to do. That does not mean that they have to be cheery on a monday morning or polite every day of the week. It does mean, however, that they have to treat others with the respect due to another human being.
Where I am running into trouble is trying to figure out differences “good people” and “bad people.” There are some people who need to be someone else. People whose strengths are so far buried underneath all sorta of emotional difficulties, trauma and weirdness that they aren’t considered “good.” If this is what you’re talking about Kathleen, I think I’m going to have to do a whole series of blog posts.
Being a better person means living up to one’s full potential. Trying to be someone you are not flies in the face of that idea. One may not be a kind, caring individual; however, that does not mean they have to be a dick to everyone they meet. Likewise, just because one considers oneself to be a kind, nurturing person doesn’t mean they have to be a human dishrag.
Drawing that line, at times, can be difficult. The line has to be this–One does something because they want to do it for them-self, not because they feel they have to to fit in. There’s more to it than that, but the first part of it is has to be staying true to oneself.
I apologize for sounding like an Afterschool Special.b
Brando asks Dear Bastard,
If I clone myself, and my clone turns out to be an asshole, am I responsible for his assholishness?
Unless you raised the clone yourself, you are not responsible for the assholishness of your clone.
That being said, assholishness is a choice we make, specifically, we chose to be assholes. There are better ways of being. Hell, there are worse ways of being, but that is also our choice.
Readers, if you think I’m wrong, correct me.
* Hi Rachel. Sorry about that.
** Fire-Setting, Bed Wetting and Cruelty to Animals