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The non-stalkery guide to talking to people from the internet

I was at a meetup event when a stranger came over to me and asked how grad school was going. I found this kinda sorta very creepy, even after I remembered that I’d put that information in my meetup profile. Which brings me to rule #1

1. Contextualize Information

Remind the person where the information came from, ‘cause people often forget what they let slip where. “On your twitter landing page, it says you’re a data wonk?”, “In your okcupid profile, it says you like Sartre” (yes, you can omit the name of the dating site if you’re on that dating site or an event hosted by that site).


2. Don’t switch the medium

I once didn’t wanna go out on a second date ‘cause a guy tried to connect with me on linkedin; that mess didn’t end up lasting longer than two. Yes, the information is public and all, but it felt weirdly invasive that this guy I was interacting with through text messages wanted to be connected through a professional social media network.


A similar thing happened fairly recently where someone followed me from kinja to twitter to my email to linkedin-like yes I know I put all that information out there (and honestly a bunch of kinja people are on twitter to compensate for kinja’s lack of private messaging) and it’s not at all hard to do, but man was I kinda (very) freaked out for a bit. A simple “hey, can I email you?” or “can I connect with you on linkedin” would have gone a long way.

3. Cool it with the interaction

It’s statistically unlikely that you really do love every single tweet or facebook status or blog post any one person writes. Like really quite unlikely. To the point where unless it’s a social media account or celeb type instance, you’re more likely to be scaring the person than getting into their good graces. So cool it. Treat the internet as an extension of real life spaces: do you tell random acquaintances how awesome everything they do is? no, right.


Well, same here, as really the best way you can have non-creepy interactions on the internet is by remembering that there’s a person receiving the contents of the TCP/IP packet.

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