Listening to Emma Thompson talking about the recent sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood and the film industry in general, she said that her mother used the word ‘pestering’ for the inappropriate attention from men that she experienced. That’s it! That’s the word that describes the behaviour I encounter every day online.
Since publishing my book, I realise how important it is to have a social media profile to aid with marketing and to create a fan base of readers. So, during the past eighteen months I have worked hard to build and maintain author profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, LinkedIn, and Instagram. It’s very satisfying to connect with people who have read my book and to get their feedback and also to hear from women who have been touched by the story or are in a similar situation.
However, inadvertently, I seem to have opened myself up to the unwanted advances of rafts of men who want to befriend me. No, let’s get it straight, they’re not looking for friends. They want to have a romantic liaison and marriage. They don’t even look at my profile to find out anything about me. Hence, the questions, ‘Hi! Howya doin’ sweetie? Where are you from?’ or ‘Where do you live?’
Initially, I found it quite flattering but now it irritates the Hell out of me! I’ve stopped using Skype as even when I’m not online, there seems to be a battalion of US army Generals who have nothing better to do with their time than trawl the system looking for ladies. I have encountered these US army personnel on most of my other social media sites too. Is it part of their training? Do they get bonuses based on how active they are online? Or in between taking pot shots at rebels in Afghanistan or Syria do they distract themselves from the living Hell around them by looking at pictures of women? Why don’t they message their wives and girlfriends back home? Is there some kind of macho tally at work where they gain prestige by the number of women they have as followers? I have never been approached by a military person from another country. Or is it something in the American man’s psyche that thinks that they are more attractive to the opposite sex if they say they work for the military? Do they think pictures of them in uniform are appealing? Maybe for some women they are but it has the totally opposite effect on me. As soon as I see a photo of them posing with a gun or a tank in the background, I block them. Deleting the conversation is not enough as the pesky little blighters will send message after message as they can’t quite compute that I may not want anything to do with them. Sometimes they’re sneaky and pretend to be a surgeon or a pilot until you look at their profiles and find some military reference or a telling photo. I know that armed forces’ presence is necessary in some troubled areas of the world but I’m a pacifist and would welcome other solutions to political or religious conflict. I couldn’t date a soldier. It’s just not me.
I never reply to any of the messages I get and used to just ignore them. But some of them are so persistent and think that I might not have seen their original message so decide to send more until they get a response. Pestering! It takes all of my restraint not to write something extremely rude. It’s like a road rage reaction. I feel incensed! However, I’m not prepared to risk my reputation as an author on an explosive vent. Blocking them is the only way to stop them and is like putting a deadlock on your front door for extra protection.
The only site where I’ve had no interference is Pinterest. I created a page specifically for photos related to my book, showing locations mentioned in the book and photos of Turkish culture, people, and crafts, etc. There are some stunning photos and I’ve enjoyed making a collection, some of which are in the gallery on my website. While there is the facility to comment publicly on photos, I think it’s only due to the fact that there is no private messaging option, that any potential pesterers are discouraged.
Look out for my next blog on the fun I’ve had on Instagram!