You may think all writers are anti-social introverts who hate interacting with others. While I would typically tell you not to be a judgmental twat-waffle, I can also acknowledge that some stereotypes exist for a reason and unfortunately this may be one that I live up to. No, I’m not anti-social per say, but I do enjoy my own company– and that of the voices in my head– more than I enjoy anyone else’s. And sure I don’t actually hate interacting with others, but there are certainly aspects of appropriate social behavior that I don’t love. Like small talk…and wearing pants. Click & Tweet!
There is no situation in which my social fuckery is more prevalent than when new men approach me to strike up a conversation. Why? Because no matter how mundane it starts, I assume they are eventually going to steer the conversation down a road I’m not interested in traveling. Is this judgmental and probably vain of me? Absofuckinglutely. Do I care? No.
Before you call me a hypocrite for being a judgy bitch– which I might be, but is beside the point– walk a mile in my shoes. Life experience has taught me that the subtext of “Hey, how are ya?” is actually “Hey, DTF?” Since my answer to this question has always been a loud and resounding no, I’ve had to learn to navigate these uncomfortable situations in ways that allow me to leave feeling good about myself, and comfortable with my safety, while still getting my message across.
When I was a young lass who cared too much what other people thought of me, I didn’t want to be presumptuous, so I always tried to be amiable and friendly while throwing subtle signs that I wasn’t interested in anything other than polite conversation. Seems like nice enough way of handling things if I do say so myself. Unfortunately, I’ve never found subtlety to be particularly effective, so when the inevitable advance was finally made and I said “Thanks, but no thanks,” I suddenly found myself branded a tease and wondering how the hell that happened. As this became a repetitive issue, I naturally thought the problem was me.
Not wanting to send mixed messages, I changed my approach. No one likes to feel strung along, so logically it follows that if subtlety doesn’t work, then a courteous but firm dismissal right out the gate would be appreciated, right? Wrong. Evidently, candidly expressing a lack of interest before an actual proposition has been made makes one a conceited bitch. Well, shit. I can’t fucking win, can I? The result is that navigating the line between demonstrating exclusively platonic interest and being a pleasant, sociable human being is stressful, not to mention exhausting. And I know I’m not the only woman that feels this way. It was out of this damned if I do, damned if I don’t reality that I adopted an “If you can’t beat ’em, fuck with ’em” attitude.
Sarcasm is, and kind of always has been, my thing. Some would call it a defense mechanism; I just think I’m funny. Click & Tweet! I used to temper my natural impulses because people that don’t realize I’m being sarcastic think I’m just an asshole. As I’ve gotten older and possibly a little wiser, I’ve decided that if I don’t want to wear pants, I simply won’t wear pants. And if I want to be sarcastic, by God, I’ll be sarcastic. I’m not malicious or cruel, I just happen to have a dry sense of humor. I’ve also found that maybe I can use my super-human ability for sarcasm for good rather than evil. You be the judge.
With social media rapidly replacing face-to-face interaction, and too many people treating Facebook like Tinder, social media has become an excellent forum for me to let my true colors fly. Ladies, I hope my methods amuse and inspire you. Gentlemen, it’s not personal, but if you private message me and I don’t know you, prepare to be trolled. Among my ever growing repertoire, here are some of my favorite tactics for deflecting unwanted attention, each used with varying levels of success by yours truly
P.S. I didn’t obtain permission before posting these, so I’ve deleted the names and pictures of everyone I’ve interacted with in order to protect their identity as well as avoid a lawsuit for slander or some shit. My side of the conversation is always in blue.
Tactic 1: The Curt Reply
Now, in my experience one-word answering someone only deters them about 50% of the time, and that’s when it’s used in person. Online the success rate is even lower. So, while I recognize the Curt Reply isn’t the most efficient deterrent, I like to use it to give potential would-be suitors an opportunity to declare their intentions. They rarely do, which means I go into the conversation planning on following up with one of my other tactics.
This is as far as I ever go with the Curt Reply before employing something else. Which tactic I move to depends entirely on my mood and the general direction of the conversation thus far.
Tactic 2: Just Call a Spade a Spade
In spite of what I said earlier, there’s nothing wrong with taking the direct approach. If all your spidey senses are screaming stranger danger, you are well within your right to ask someone what they expect to get out of the conversation. But be warned, if you’re direct early on, you’re likely to be hit with defensiveness and/or a guilt trip. Like this guy, who got defensive and tried to make me feel like a jerkwad for asking him what his endgame was. SMH. He had no idea the can of worms he just opened up. I almost feel bad for him. Almost.
Tactic 3: Make Yourself as Pretentious, Vapid, and Self-Centered as Possible
This was my response to Mr. I Just Want To Have A Nice Chat. It seemed fair. One of the reasons I’m on social media is to interact with and reach readers. Maybe I’d spark his interest, we’d share a laugh, and he would look into my book. Right? Appallingly, as the conversation continued, my certainty that he hasn’t read a single book grew three times that day.
I don’t always talk about my writing when using this approach. Any manner of superficial first world problem will do.
Tactic 4: Say It In Song
Sometimes they think I’m as funny as I think I am, though I’ll admit that’s a rare turn. More often I get a lot of okay’s in response to my antics, so props to this guy both for being direct and for taking my rejection in stride.
Tactic 5: Speak Exclusively in Quotes
These can be either book or movie quotes. The thing to remember is that the more famous and well recognized the quote, the less relevant it needs to be to whatever question you’ve been asked.
Tactic 6: Give Them a Dose of Their Own Medicine
This is similar to Calling a Spade a Spade. Both tactics involve being direct about the situation, but Give Them a Dose of Their Own Medicine has the added element of twisting the situation to make them the bad guy. On a separate note, instant messengers, use some common sense! If you messaged me, you should know who the fuck you’re talking to. My name is on the top of the damn IM box. Jesus Christ.
Tactic 7: Use an Obscure Metaphor
And ride that gravy train all the way into the station. This one happened to have the added bonus of continuing the reverse guilt train he tried to start with me at the beginning of the conversation.
Well, I certainly hope he learned his lesson, though given his excessive use of the word ‘okay’, I have my doubts.
In conclusion and summation of, there you have it: my favorite tactics for deflecting unwanted attention. While I may be an asshole, I’m a clever asshole. Remember, it only needs to be funny to me, and I have a weird sense of humor.