Successful Online Dating Part 7: Using protection

As I implied yesterday, all the nice-and-polite in the world cannot completely stop the occasional yahoo from sneaking in and ruining it for everybody.  Today, we will talk about

How and when to use the block button!

I know that a lot of people have issues with the block button.  The ones who have been in abusive relationships will tend to “sit on it” or “think it over” and then decide that whatever made them think of blocking an abusive user probably wasn’t that bad.  Then there are those (often also the victims of abuse) who will hit the block button on anyone who misuses an Oxford comma or seems to be thinking about considering something inappropriate.

Allow me to clear a few things up.  First of all, the Block button is there both for your protection and to save you time.  Most of the time, someone who is blocked may think they’re sending you a message, but they won’t see it.  Also, they will generally not show up in your search or local results.  (This is NOT universal – it varies from site to site.)  I have heard rumors of sites that will inform a blocked person that they are blocked, but I have not confirmed this.  (As I get more “insider information”, I’ll let you know.)

The biggest and most important thing I can say about the block button is that it’s a great way to exercise your intuition without having to sacrifice a ride home.  If you feel uncomfortable about someone – perhaps they seem a little vulgar, even after you ask them to mind their language a bit, or they use blatantly manipulative words – block them.

It’s an empowering and amazing thing to do, deleting someone from your potential dating pool.  I will generally give someone an opportunity to become a reasonable person, but I have been known to block someone after my first response to them.  (See yesterday’s post about conversing.)

Avoid the drama

A big part of how and why we use blocking features on online dating sites is to avoid drama and stalking, so here’s where we talk a bit more about what to share and why.

First, if you have kids or any other sensitive family/groups, don’t EVER link to your social media networks from your online dating profile.  This means Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, tumblr, etc.  You may think that someone couldn’t possibly find you from Spotify or YouTube, but they can.  The spider web of connectivity goes far and wide, even between sites that seem unrelated.  When you have something to protect, be proactive in protecting it.

Don’t use your real name as your screen name.  Seriously.  Even if you don’t have a huge family to worry about, the .001% of the internet population that are the creepers and weirdos will be able to track you down.  In the best case scenario, you’ll be the recipient of countless harassing messages from someone who does not understand that “leave me alone” means them and not some other random stranger.  In the worst case scenario, you just set yourself up to have your identity stolen and abused.

If you’re one of those folks who don’t have kids/family/businesses and you feel pretty safe letting your real colors (and name, and identity) shine freely on teh intarweebs, still err on the side of caution.  Yes, it’s fantastic to promote your artistic talent from your profile sometimes (as long as that’s not the only reason), and I’ve enjoyed a number of beautiful and highly entertaining videos that were linked by interesting people.  Just remember these:
  • Only post your own stuff or the stuff you have the rights to, especially on YouTube and other video services.
  • YouTube is owned by Google now, and that means that your YouTube account is connected to your entire online identity if you use Google at all.
  • You could go so far as to create a completely alternate online identity (as I myself have done in the past), but one day, the lines will cross, and you should be prepared for that.
  • Linking to a personal blog may increase your traffic, but if it’s a really personal blog, keep in mind the kinds of people who might be reading it – like creepers who will use any kind of information about you to seem more appealing.

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Just to be clear, let me explain my definition of a “creeper”.  This would be any type of person who uses dishonest means to accomplish a dishonest goal.  That means anyone from passive stalkers to kid-touchers to those with more malicious intent.  It’s a common occurrence for ex-significant-others, for instance, to find their exes on dating sites and “check in on them”.  Sure, you may have blocked them on Facebook, but that won’t matter a hill of beans on FetLife.

Don’t take any of this to imply that online dating isn’t worth it.  In many ways, it’s becoming far safer than trying to meet someone in person because nearly anyone can do a quick “poor man’s background check” on anyone with a few simple search strings.  But just like you wouldn’t leave your purse or wallet on the table when you go to the lou on a first date, don’t leave your personal business out where anyone can get their grubby little mitts on it.

If you do find yourself on the receiving end of stalker-ish and creepy behavior, report the user to the site’s administrator.  This goes for any site, anywhere.

And I really don’t have to tell you not to engage in this behavior yourself, do I?  No, I didn’t think so.If you were expecting a talk about “safer” subjects like contraception… we’ll get to that in a later post.

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