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Sunday, September 11, 2005

Creepy Things

I was just reading Seth Godin's free eBook, Who's There?, in which one of the points he makes about blogging is that users can immediately tell if you are faking anything. He says that Gen. Y people, who have grown up with computers, can figure out genuine text almost instinctively. He said that subtle cues in writing, tone, and diction can alert readers of blogs instantly if somebody else is ghostwriting, or if the author is not writing their genuine opinion. I think this is true, as it has come up with me on a number of occasions.

This last week, for example, I've been getting really creepy emails from somebody on the collegiate social networking site Facebook. Now, I have met a lot of neat people from Facebook, and most everyone on it are normal, functional people looking for an online way to network and interact. It's a Good Thing. But when I got this email, I knew something was strange.
Hey, do you still live in [my dorm] or do you live in an apartment now? I don't mean this in a bad way, but are you the only gay person at [our dorm]? I was just wondering if there are any others here. I was wondering if there would be any and I haven't found any so far. Well, I hope to talk to you later!
People just don't introduce themselves that way. My first thought is, "Why does he really want to locate all the gay people living in my dorm? That doesn't sound kosher. I did some checking, and he doesn't self-identify as homosexual on the site, and he is listed as having a girlfriend. He is also part of a number of Catholic groups on facebook. Something was definitely strange.

But, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he's just socially retarded, and has no idea how to interact with other guys. I've met a number of people that freakish, and especially if he's closeted, he's not gonna know how to talk to somebody. So, I try to be helpful, but I make sure to call him on it.
Indeed, I do still live in [our dorm], in the same room I was in last year as a matter of fact. Unfortunately, I don't really know any other gay guys here, so I can't really help you out. I'm a little confused as to why you'd be looking for gay guys anyway, seeing as how your profile indicates you have a girlfriend... but yeah, sorry I can't help.
I wasn't sure if that would be the end of it, and as it happened, it wasn't.
Do you have a roommate? Is he gay, and does he support your decision to be gay? Well, I would ask that you keep this confidential, but while I am in a relationship, before her, my best friend and I, and we are the only ones who know about us, had some moments. I just wondered who in [our dorm] was gay. I thought I might like to meet them.
Again. Creepy, right? Can you pick out why? First off, he says "decision to be gay." Anyone who has had honest homosexual inclinations is not gonna say it's a decision (unless they are deluded, self-hating souls needing professional counseling). He's already asking for privacy, which might be normal for closeted people, but in this case it's off beat. He's not confiding in me in the hopes of camaraderie; he's hoping to prove his credentials as a Real Gay Guy. Very strange.

But we have not yet reached the point where I'm willing to say out and out he's dishonest. I've met some people who were quite honest about being freakishly strange, so I'm still giving him the benefit of the doubt at this point. I'll try to be helpful, I rationalize. Whatever the reality is, maybe I can get to the bottom of this. Take the standard safety measures and meet up -- meet in a public space where he can't do anything to me, don't reveal my room's location, and see what he's really about.
I have a straight roommate - what do you mean decision to be gay? I never made a decision. If you wanted to meet, we could meet up in the lobby, or perhaps get some dinner or coffee at some point. Let me know what works for you.
I was hoping he'd say sure. He didn't.
Ok, maybe we will meet sometime. I just didn't know if your roommate was always in the room. I mean, if we were to ever get together, I would hope that no one else was present unless they wanted to join. What room are you in? Well, I will definitely have to look you up. I can just tell my roommate that I am going to do homework. That way there are no questions. Well, it is time for bed so I will see you later.
"Unless they wanted to join?" Asking for my room number, when I haven't provided it publicly or privately? He's gonna "look me up?" Alright, this is downright creepy. If he's an idiot, he needs the manners lesson. If he's a scoundrel, he needs to know I will not let myself be messed with. I'll be gentle; there's still a remote chance he's just a moron. And if he's a scoundrel, I'd still like to meet him - safely! - and get to the bottom of it.
Your messages are seriously creeping me out. First, I will not meet you for the first time in private, and I will not give you my room number when I don't know anything about you. Nothing personal, but I have to be concerned with my own safety. If you are so paranoid that your friends might find you (gasp!) talking to some random guy, then we could meet in [several] dining halls. They are public spaces chaotic enough that run-ins are rare. But frankly, you are allowed to talk to other guys (even gay ones) and not be gay. If you're still interested in meeting up, let me know, but please stop with the careful insinuations and underhandedness.
I figured by this point that he wanted me alone, for one of any number of reasons. I wasn't going to give it to him, so he was going to give me a bad response. I was not disappointed.
I am sorry. If it bothers you that much, then I will no try to meet you at all. In fact, I should just drop the entire subject and pretend that each of us do not exist. I think that would be better for both of us. If you think otherwise, I will have to see. I do have a girlfriend and I don't need to meet any gay guys or other guys for that matter. I have my friends and I will keep it that way. So, I guess I will say goodbye and you will never hear from me again.
Oh the drama! Tears are streaming down my face right now because I am so sad this creep has decided to leave me alone! Did he think he could pity me into reconsidering? I'm not responding to that trash.

There are a couple scenarios which could have possibly produced this kind of exchange. Some are more likely than others. Let me give an outline of what I thought I was looking at.

Scenario A: Horny, creepy guy
Likelihood: Low
Description: This kid is just some confused, closeted fellow looking for incognito sex behind his girlfriend's back. I highly doubt this is the case because:
  1. Gay/bi kids looking for sex wouldn't have used the religiously charged 'decision' line.
  2. He never actually mentioned sex. Gay guys are more upfront: if a homo wants sex from you, you will not doubt it.
  3. If he were just looking to meet more guys, he might have met with me without the promise of sex.
  4. He contacted me over a social networking site due to proximity. If he just wanted sex, he would've been looking for gay guys anywhere at Purdue, and probably would've gone to Gay.com
Scenario B: Rapist
Likelihood: Low
Description: This guy was looking for someone so he could overpower them and use them, possibly regularly. Not likely because:
  1. It sounded like he wanted consensual underground sex; not the kind of thing rapists are after.
  2. Most rapes happen on dates or between friends.
  3. All the reasons listed under Scenario A.
Scenario C: Gay Basher
Likelihood: Medium
Description: Some Christian asshat decides he doesn't want a gay guy in his dorm. He decides to take care of the problem using the fundamentalists' favorite tool: violence. He's looking to get someone in a vulnerable position so he (and possibly some friends) can beat the hell out of them and run them off campus on a rail. Medium likelihood because:
  1. He was not smooth. He didn't know how to act, which I would expect out of somebody who has no clue that homos are people, too.
  2. He used religiously charged language and would only meet me in such a way that I was vulnerable.
  3. He assumed I wanted cheap, anonymous sex, even though it says pretty clearly on my profile: looking for friendship, dating, relationship, NOT "random play" NOR "whatever I can get." That's how fundies see gay people.
Scenario D: Prankster
Likelihood: High
Description: Similar to Scenario C, but not as violent. He wanted to play some kind of nasty prank on me, rather than actually causing physical harm. Possibly, I was to be the butt (haha!) of some joke amongst his Catholic buddies (though where I come from, Catholics are better than fundies... but I guess that's not true everywhere). More likely than C because:
  1. It only takes mild amounts of homophobia and alcohol to engage in a prank; much less than a beating.
  2. All the reasons listed under C.
What do you all think? I certainly played it safe -- I have never had a bad experience meeting somebody from the Internet, because I know how to handle myself, and I can make very good analyses of the relative safety of such situations. I know how much risk a given situation entails, and I have hard and fast limits on the kind of risk I will take. Also, I don't do the whole cheap, anonymous sex thing, which puts me in a much safer spot than those who do.

Warning: the internet can be a scary, scary place.

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Blogger Morganlefay83 said...

Wow, there are some really crazy, scary, stupid people out there. Who is really dumb enough to meet someone off the internet in private for the first time? Even people looking for cheap annonymous sex usually meet in public first.

I would kind of tend to beleive scenario A, but a bit modified. Dude sounds like he's choking on the standard issue crap that he would likely hear in his religious groups. He probably does not consider himself gay because he considers homosexuality to be a "lifestyle" and since he has a girlfriend he is not living that "lifestyle," and in his mind is therefore not gay. Also, he assumes that part of the "gay lifestyle" is anonymous sex and that by associating with a gay person he is therefore entitled to it.

But beyond that, he just sounds like a creepy loser with no social skills. It seems needless to say that he probably has no self esteem and no real, close relationships with other people. He is obviously not comfoprtable with gay people and is therefore probably not comfortable with himself. I would guess that he has probably never attempted to contact a gay person before, and is not comfortable with what he is looking for. That is probably why he does not want to be upfront about looking for gay men. That would also explain why he would not go through the proper chanels looking for casual sex. He doesn't want to go to "those" places or websites, because then he would have to admit to himself what he's doing. In short, the guy sounds kind of unstable, and though probably harmless, he doesn't seem like someone it'd be a good idea to associate with.

Wow psychology majors can ramble. Hope you're feeling better.

Blogger Zeno said...

I rate the basher possibility a little higher than you do, Agius. He really didn't have a clue about being gay (that whole "decision" thing) and that makes it clear to me that he is an ignorant straight boy. His insistence on trying to get you alone then can mean only one thing: he wants you defenseless. Perhaps it's slightly more likely he'd play an abusive prank on you (possibly backed up by cronies of his) than actually try to beat you up, but he didn't go to all that work to bait a trap for a nice reason.

Good for you for keeping your guard up.

Anonymous Ryan said...

Oi. That was extremely creepy, such I don't bother noting my sexual orientation on my facebook profile, it just avoids the entire issue all together. I would have done pretty much exact same thing, although perhaps not have been as kind as you were ;)


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