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.
Technorati Tags: Advice, Advice Column, Ask a Bastard, empowerment
* Hi Rachel. Sorry about that.
** Fire-Setting, Bed Wetting and Cruelty to Animals
These are all really excellent questions and insightful answers. I appreciate K-unit’s because of my own personal transformation at this time. I know for me, being a good person and making change feels good and right. It’s the feeling of right, sort of like the first time I entered a synagogue, that makes me know I am making changes because I wasn’t really being who I was and I need to be true to myself.
Who knows. I could be wrong. I am probably wrong. Chuckles will tell me I am wrong. I deserve it.
Von, I think Marty smacked it on the head there. I think you should just be yourself and don’t be too e-mail slutty. That can turn off folks. Just speak from the heart and with compassion. If someone doesn’t see that, you didn’t want to be friends anyway.
And Brando. Sweet, sweet Brando…
I heart you and your TLB. That’s all I got. All. I. Gots. AG hearts you.
So about not meeting ax murderers.
I met Raz on-line. We “dated” on-line for a few years. (Mostly consisting of him kicking my ass at Starcraft and RPing in IRC) We talked a lot on the phone and just hung out a lot.
The same things you would do if you were around the person.
Basically, if the other person says something that strikes you as off or sets up your hackles, keep your eyes open.
Never meet a internet friend for the first time in a private location. (Sadly, while I say this often enough.. I’ve only ever practiced it with two meetings: Meeting certain people at DragonCon and meeting people in Seattle. I should have been ax murdered long ago)
I’ll just repeat what others have said because it needs to be reiterated time and time again. If you get any sort of a bad (or creepy or uneasy) feeling about the person, stop wasting your time with them. You’re getting that feeling for a reason.
I’d like to point out that Marty never creeped me out. 🙂
All the sudden, I am questioning your sanity. 😉
I just looked at Marty’s tool. (Stop it!) What is a parasitic behavior?!!!
I’d like to sort of disagree with the Bastard about internet dating. There is NO substitute for meeting the person, and my inclination is to have that take place sooner rather than later. You can have those long conversations about music over that first cup of coffee, if your initial conversations go well. The internet should be something to let you guys meet, not to replace the face-to-face getting to know someone, which is irreplaceable. I wound up on the worst date of my life because I spent a lot of time talking to someone before actually meeting them. (The reaction upon meeting him in my head was, “Uh. I *guess* that photo was you.”) The guy then called repeatedly and I had to repeatedly turn him down. It made us both feel like shit, as it turned out that I was not physically attracted to this person in any way, shape, or form. I also think you get a much better read from someone in person. I met my current boyfriend via the internet, through a service that really pushes you out the door to meet each other. Be careful, of course, but I think you’re far more likely to meet a psycho in the bar scene, to be honest.
That winky, by the way, I have no idea where it came from. It was supposed to close (). Looks really awful placed there!
Whew, I am so relieved. Now I just need to convince the jury.
I’d have to disagree, Alison, but then again my experience was completely different.
When Raz and I finally met face to face (keep in mind that he lived in Chicagoland and I lived in Boynton Beach, Florida for most of the time we internet dated), it was like it was meant to be.
Then again, we were pretty honest about each other. and the pictures we shared were recent.
I do agree with Alison, there is no substitute for meeting someone face to face. I think there is a happy medium between Alison’s idea, Deb’s idea and my advice.
It is all based around comfort levels. I am a firm believer if pushing the boundaries on comfort levels when appropriate.
Oh, AG, Parasitic Lifestyle is milking people for money, food, living space and affection. The best example I can think of is a person living in their parent’s basement, not contributing to rent and having a job.
Got it. I was worried I was doing that.
I live on my own and own my own home. I have a job and I also pay rent in addition to owning a home.
I guess I am super not that!
I shall continue to work on my depressed feelings and anger. I took an even bigger step today. I am so proud of me.
Please get the word out — AG can and will change. It’s worth taking another look.
I love being something so much better.
great post. I am still thinking about this.