Excerpts from “How To Not Be Creepy On Twitter" by Sarah (@writehandedgirl)
Artwork by HXNNXH
1. Before you even send a tweet to someone, consider your relationship with them carefully. This is especially important if it’s a DM, which is immediately more private and personal. Have you met IRL? How long have you followed each other? What sort of things do you discuss? Does she/he actively respond in conversation with you? Is he/she in a different position of power to you (for example, you’re an older man she hasn’t met, and she’s a younger woman?). What dynamics are driving the conversation?
2. People will make comments about their own bodies on Twitter. They will use nice pictures of themselves in their avatars. This is not necessarily an invitation for you to comment on their physical appearance.
Example: One day I tweeted: “I wore short shorts today, and anyone who judged my scars [on my thighs, from self-injury] can kiss my ass.”
I got many male responses regarding my ass, and the act of kissing it.
Creepy. Not OK. NOT the point of the tweet.
3. It’s usually a good rule of thumb to avoid commenting on someone’s physical appearance, unless in response to a direct question – ie ‘Is this dress right for this occasion?’ or ‘What do you think of my new haircut?’ Even then, ask yourself how they might feel about your reply, and if you do choose to comment, focus on the question and be polite.
4. Be considerate of your use of endearments, unless it’s someone you know really well. Again, consider the dynamic. Two women who’ve been tweeting each other for a few months using “hun”? cool. Any other sort of unsolicited over familiarity or affection to someone you don’t know? – NO.
5. If the conversation starts in public, don’t move to DM without checking if that’s ok. In fact, any use of DM needs to be considered very carefully. It’s the equivalent of talking to someone at a party, then moving them into an empty room and closing the door. Do they want you to do this? Are you sure?
6. If you publicly offend someone and they call you out on it – publicly apologize.
7. Replying to things that were tweeted several days ago will indicate to people that you’ve been stalking their timeline. This is probably going to make them feel uncomfortable.
8. Don’t ask for personal details like addresses. You can do this only if you know them well, if you request the information publicly and allow them to reply privately, and if you are happy with the request being turned down.
9. DON’T FAV OR REPLY TO EVERY SINGLE TWEET FROM ONE PERSON. Seriously, it’s not cute, it’s creepy.
10. If you constantly reply to a person, and they constantly do not acknowledge you (particularly if they don’t follow you, either) – that probably means they don’t want to interact with you. Let it go.
11. Don’t ‘White Knight’ if you see a woman having an argument with a man. We’re strong women. Most of us are very well rehearsed in these sorts of conversations. We don’t need you to jump in and save us. (Caveat- see comment below regarding extremely abusive behavior).
12. There are very, very few situations where it’s going to be ok to proposition someone on Twitter, so you can probably safely assume that your situation is one of the Not Ok ones. Don’t do it.
13. If you don’t know what constitutes creepy, you may not know what constitutes harassment or abuse. In some cases it can be a pretty fine line. Again, think before you tweet. You might not just make someone uncomfortable – you might be seriously crossing that line.