Strange is the Beast


Anyone else got the bad habit of watching TV and being online at the same time?

Guilty as charged. I do it all the time, my iPad sits pride of place, like a tame cat, on the arm of my red leather sofa. My excuse? Apart from the obvious addictive element, it has become an extension of my world. In an instant, I note down ideas, surf to interesting programme-related websites, interact on social media and monitor my emails. A multi-tasking delight, or is it?

Sometimes, however, I forget to close app windows when I am busy with something else, which shows me as online. On one such occasion, a contact from a well known social media site popped up professing to be bored. Always willing to help and have a chat – I engaged. Smart move or not, this interaction led to a conversation with a very strange mutation:

W: “Fecking bored.”

A: “Really, why?”

W: “Should be working.’

W: “Can’t inspire myself to.”

A: “At this time – it’s the witching hour?”

W: “Indeed.”

A: “Why not do something totally the opposite – sometimes it helps.”

W: “Like do something else beginning with w you mean?”

A: “Any letter will do. If you are writing, go count the stars for ten minutes, or something.”

W: “I’d rather get naked.”

A: “Well go do that then.”

W: “Talking you through it?”

A: “?”

W: “The process from clothed to unclothed.”

A: “Ha ha ha!”

W: “Glasses off.”

W: “Off.”

A: “Nothing like a bit of [edit] porn!”

W: “Socks off.

Belt off.

Jeans off.

Shirt off.”

[ I suppose I could have anticipated that there would be no saving the conversation from here on. Surreal as it was – I decided to remain to see the outcome . . . ]

A: “Make a good blog post this.”

W: “Pants off.

Birthday suit on . . .

it’s the perfect fit.

What to do now?”

A: “Write.”

W: “Not the other ‘w’ verb?”

A: “You’re on your own there!”

W: “I’m sure you could lend a helping hand.”

A: “I doubt it.”

W: “Try.”

A: “No-oooo!”

W: “Why not?”

A: “You need to ask?”

W: “Yep.”

W: “You encouraged me to strip, so now I need some encouragement.”

A: “No, I suggested you count the stars.”

W: “Well go do that then.”

W: “To quote.”

A: “1, 2, 3 . . .

W: “What?”

A: . . . counting.”

W: “You are?”

A: “4, 5, 6, 7 . . .

W: “Why not just get naked?”

A: . . . 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 . . .

W: “Right, night.”

A: . . . 13, 14, 15, 16.”

W: “Maybe you’ll fall asleep like counting sheep.”

A: “Night. Good luck with the inspiration. 🙂 “

Of course my sister and I had a laugh at the absurdity of the exchange, when I recounted it to her the next day, in hushed tones over the phone from my kitchen. We even discussed the plausibility of this not being my contact at all, but an imposter from the Heartbleed virus clan, who had hacked into his profile.

It has become a blog post, as I said it would, because I wanted to highlight a few points that continue to niggle me. Using this interaction as an example, at what point do you draw the line and shout enough? Although I would class this discourse as mild in nature, I feel it does venture into the grey area, commonly referred to as the ‘thin end of the wedge’. Some may accuse me of making a mountain out of a molehill, whereas I find it a classic case of the hazy definition that still exists when determining the boundaries of decency. Add this to the fact that society – in the 21 century – continues to sit on the fence, when it comes to objectifying women for pleasure and I think you get my point.

OK. I’m not that poe-faced that I can’t take a joke – I did laugh – but in retrospect, why does it feel wrong on so many levels? Apart from my previous thoughts, is my reaction so because this social media contact is an acquaintance and one that I don’t know awfully well? Was it made easier because we have never actually met? Did he for one minute consider that it might be inappropriate? How would I have felt if it had been a friend instead? And what’s wrong with a normal conversation anyway?

The Internet has changed the way we interact with each other. In many ways the Web is amazing, giving us access to people, places and opportunities we might never have come across. On the flip side, however, the often faceless contact we have all come to readily accept also comes with a price tag. We have unwittingly redefined our boundaries and privacy settings too. In many cases, we have forgone face-to-face contact, reading facial expressions and anticipating actions for shallow estimations of the other. In this way. it’s possible to open up a right royal can of misinterpretations!

So, is a case like this acceptable or sexual harassment? I’m pretty sure it would never have happened in real time. What do you think, dear reader?

Final thought, it’s never a bright idea to put things on the Internet that could come back to bite you in the derrière one day.

[ Exits *counting stars* : “1, 2, 3 . . . ” ]


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