On Love, Sex & Instant Messaging

Good evening friends,

It takes a lot to make me mad, but tonight I was pushed that far. Not just mad, but needing a glass of Bailey’s on the rocks to sip while I turn my anger into a plea for understanding. I don’t like resorting to alcohol to calm my frustrations as I know it’s not a healthy habit to have, but for tonight, I really couldn’t care.

In today’s world, most of us are using instant messaging. Social media giants the world over make it easy for us to send messages and to receive and respond to them almost instantly. Instant messenger applications replaced the handwritten letter and several retail stores have swapped angry telephone calls for curt live chat exchanges instead. In our modern inerconnected era, there is a high chance that you have used some form of instant messaging within the past week.

So my first question then, what do you use instant messaging for?

Chatting to loved ones? Chatting to friends? Maybe even having some innocent (or not-so-innocent) chats with bae? Whatever the reason, it’s an entirely personal one and as such, you’ve never had to justify yourself to anyone else. Correct?

Same for me, or so I thought.

It first started on anonymous chat app, Whisper. Upon realising that I was married, several individuals (all male) felt the need to ask me what I was there for. The answer to that quesion is simple; to chat, to vent, to confess. In all forms, I was either there to relieve boredom, to share some thought or feeling or simply there to relieve stress. Regardless, my reasons for being there are my own personal business and not the decision of anyone else, which leads us to the most popular follow-up question;

Does your husband know you’re here?

Have you any idea how how sexist that question is? In asking me this, you’re making me my husband’s property and robbing me of my autonomy as a modern woman. If my own husband treated me the same way, he’d have divorce papers waiting for him, and he knows it.

As it stands, yes, my husband does know that I use chat apps, but nor does he particularly care. He plays video games and I make friends with people from all over the world. What exactly is it you have a problem with? Is the concept of trust too difficult to understand?

Enough, after explaining myself forty times over, I got sick of justifying myself anymore. I also got sick of trying to peel off the younger individuals who called me, a woman in her early thirties, an attractive “older woman” in the vaguest hopes that it would be seen in any way complimentary. At one point, I was even told that a woman of my age was “in her prime” and “perfect”. Feeling like a cheap rump steak, I uninstalled Whisper again and settled my sights on something else.

I’d enjoyed Bottled before, so I reinstalled the app and set about forming some international friendships. Sadly, I only encountered more of the same behaviours that I’d already experienced elsewhere.

A photograph of me in a white summer hat.
My usual avatar – Still me! 🙂

Several men bought me gifts to boost my reputation whilst others said that my photo was so pretty, I must be a bot on the app. The only way to prove myself, they insisted, I must send a face photo and a full body photo. A vast majority of those who request them, however, will promptly refuse to do the same in return.

Do you not see the problem?

Why do I have to prove myself? We are never going to meet. If you judge me because there are too many catfish on the internet, then please, do me a favour and don’t engage with me. I’ve done nothing wrong to be deserving of your distrust and negativity.

Sick of being asked for more photographs than I was willing to send and sick of being asked what I’m looking for, I decided to delete Bottled, too. That would be it for me from here on forth, I’d just have to make peace with being bored.

That was all fine, until a message appeared on Kik.

I had no idea who he was, but maybe he was somebody that I had spoken to before. He lived in Bristol, he told me, and I accepted that. He asked me my age, my relationship status and then finally that blasted, dreaded question;

What are you looking for?

I stared at the screen in disbelief, then I typed out my honest truth:

Umm.. actually I just use this app to talk to my Mum.

Friends, I want to be clear with you, if I have to get on my knees and beg of you, there are dozens, thousands of people the world over who are like me, who are purely using instant messaging app right now to stay connected with friends and family. We don’t want anything more because we’re already romantically involved, because we know for almost certain that nothing more will come of or because we know that our sending a few nudes to a stranger may well leave us considerably worse off. It is not us who is wrongfully using these apps, it’s you. I’ve sent a nude photo before (because I was pressured) and believe me, these apps don’t like you sending them. It’s also not something I’d choose to do again.

Of course, I can only speak of this happening to me as a woman, but maybe there are other examples of this too, of women messaging random men, men messaging random men and so on. All I can say, is please. please. don’t assume that everyone is interested in relations, please don’t assume that everyone is there to see photographs of your junk and please don’t assume that everybody is there looking for an online relationship. Some of us really are just online to make and connect with our friends.

There are apps for dating, and there are apps for socialising, too. In all forms, we should be free and safe to use these apps without having to define our intentions anywhere but on our profiles. A random woman on an app like Kik should not be approached without reason. If she can’t be safe to socialise on an instant messaging app without issue, where on earth can she socialise?

If you want to make a difference today, please. reblog this post because I feel in my heart that this needs to be talked about more often. Internet security is one thing, but we need to shine the light on the darkest corners of the internet and make this kind of behaviour unacceptable. Instant messaging should be fun, safe and enjoyable for everyone to use, whatever you’re using instant messaging for.

Be Bold, Be Bright, Be Beautiful,

Helen xx

2 thoughts on “On Love, Sex & Instant Messaging

  1. WOW! Thank you for putting your thoughts and feelings into words and sharing it. Couldn’t relay more to what you said.. It feels like nowadays there are more negative connotations at the beginning of a connection than positive ones.

    1. Thankyou! Absolutely and it’s putting me off of messaging apps honestly, as I’m sure it will for many other self-confident women. It’s so damaging to our self-esteem to be treated this way and it will wear us down over time if we let it, too. I’ve even been called offensive and vulgar names on Whisper for speaking my mind before, which ironically is exactly what the app is there for. I firmly believe that less companies need to invest in making apps and more time and money needs to be invested in monitoring and moderating them. Nobody should have to fight for respect on the internet.

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