A Tale of Two Twitters

How abuse and the election of Donald Trump is killing what was once the worlds most open social platform.

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I first created a Twitter in 2007 after I learned about it in a college communications class. I don’t think I kept it for more than a few months. It quickly became dormant as I got bored following the same few big voices on the platform, and few of my own friends used the service. Flash forward to 2012. Twitter had grown enormously since its early days. It began to be taken more seriously by marketers and the general public. While I had a dormant account of my own for years, I decided to try something new: make a fan account for an upcoming film that deserves to be a MST3K subject.

I had no idea what I was doing. I had never tried to independently grow a base of followers for myself because I was not interesting. Instead I was this satirical character on a mission: get the attention of one of my favorite filmmakers. And I did. I began following fans of the film, those involved and any ancillary account even remotely attached to the production.

Within three months most of the filmmakers were following me. I used humor, satire and wit to create a small but dedicated following. Over that summer my creativity earned me the mentorship of the filmmaker I targeted. I even left a charcoal drawing for them with their assistant- a drawing he was glad to accept. He is the reason I am now writing. I never thought that I’d pursue this path but I live in LA, work in television and am pursuing a writers track because of his mentorship.

Yes through this once obscure platform I was able to explore my creativity in ways never imagined. Twitter became a creative outlet for me, allowing me to share everything from comics to writing samples. I was able to meet others in a similar position.

Eventually the film was released to poor reviews. As it quickly fell out of the public consciousness I needed to reinvent myself and so I did. As I began to consider that, a very popular account was born. It was not one created by me, but one who used a similar sense of humor. I got a message from that producer asking if I was behind the account. After all even the jokes were similar to ones I had posted on my own Twitter about the event which inspired this new viral account. “It could be great writing practice,” he said. I’m sure if I had created that account we’d have actually met for coffee. Yes if I had a blue check mark things would be different.

By 2014 that producer unfollowed me and locked his account, going inactive. He hasn’t tweeted since 2013. He had me listed at least through December 2017, but seems to be awol again.

In the interim I went from satire to more of myself as I slowly and eventually revealed myself through a series of account reforms. By 2014 I had found a new audience of filmmakers and activists. I challenged myself politically and evolved my opinion on many issues. My writing on this blog in those years grew to wide readership and folks wanted to read my creative writing as well. Again this place was an outlet and a way to showcase my voice and interact with other similar voices.

By 2016, that became less and less frequent. As the election dominated the headlines Twitter became what it is today: a never ending timeline of Trump v. Trumpism. Folks got check marks and therefore were able to better curate their timelines, including muting anyone they’ve never interacted with. Slowly the platform closed off those who disagreed, and the website began to take on the form of FaceBook’s newsfeed. It became increasingly difficult to grow new followers or to expand a platform without a verified account. Bots quickly turned the discourse poisonous and many wound up leaving the platform due to abuse.

Anonymous twitter also disappeared and those snarky accounts which spoke truth to power fell out of favor with the public. Twitter used to be filled with accounts that were not attached to a name but an idea or subject. Often these users would tweet stuff they might never have ordinarily said for fear of professional retaliation. Today it seems modern day twitter wouldn’t really get behind anonymity because it appears to lack authenticity. Sure some of these folks turned out not to be who they said they were (notably Mystery Exec – an account which took Hollywood’s philistinism to task). Ultimately today’s twitter is too cynical for these kinds of accounts and that’s largely because of abuse by bots and other bad actors.

Today we have a Tale of Two Twitters. Many who are verified have walled themselves off to non-verified Twitter. Due to the proliferation of abuse on the platform, most notably by Trump supporters and bots farmed in Russia, many have either left the service or selectively curated a timeline which limits interaction with those they do not follow back. While this is easier to do as a verified account, third party blocking apps and keyword mutes have aided in that effort for regular users as well. There is no question that this is due to abuse. In fact some of my favorite people left the platform due to said abuse.

Twitter lacks creativity today. Folks have walled themselves off into their ideological corners, curated lists and blocked outside engagement. No longer is it a place for intellect and rigorous debate. Gone are the days of satire accounts and mystery accounts which spoke truth to power. Absent are the folks who developed a voice on this platform. No more do we see people simply content to share content or artwork. Today it is an empty timeline of the same verified accounts retweeting generic hot takes from other verified accounts and slamming Trump or talking about what Trump said. It is a sewer for trolls and other bad actors who have dealt a death blow to the anonymity which once made Twitter such a fun and creative space.

The failure to police abuse on Twitter has been and will be its ultimate downfall. It’s not too late to save the platform. But it starts with accountability and currently no one in charge seems willing to take it upon themselves to address concerns or to return to what once made their platform great.

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Homecoming

There’s a prevailing opinion about New York transplants in Los Angeles: that they’re arrogant. I’m not sure that I entirely disagree when it comes to those of us who are still new, but I don’t think that they mean to come across that way either– I certainly don’t. Many people who move to a big city never came from a big city themselves. Or at the very least, the city they knew wasn’t iconic the way New York or Los Angeles is. Even Los Angeles is not iconic the way New York is. Few cities in the world can rival the iconic nature of New York. While America is only a few centuries old, New York feels old world the way many European cities do. It is not replicable, at least not in a domestic sense. In fact, it is hard to replicate even internationally. If you were to poll people around the world and ask them what the the greatest city is, I’m sure the majority would answer New York. To come from such an iconic place leaves a mark on you as a person. It is indelible in a sense, and it will take more than a few decades to undo decades of an upbringing in such an environment.

It was extremely hard to come to the conclusion that New York was not for me. I have found great happiness in Los Angeles, but it has not come without a certain sense of guilt. To do what I love requires me to be in Los Angeles. To be with those I love would require me to be in New York. I have had to sacrifice, and it has never come with ease.

I suspect part of what makes New Yorkers come across as arrogant to others is their propensity to always harken back to the way things are in New York. To a lifelong New Yorker, New York does it best. There is a certain headstrong nature about New Yorkers and that can have the effect of rubbing people the wrong way; especially if they do things differently. When I returned home wearing a California state flag shirt I got more than a few side eyed glances in my local pub. After all most in this bar associated me as a lifelong, native New Yorker and now I found a place (a rival of NY in fact) that has made me equally if not more happy. I talked about Los Angeles’ superior quality of life, work-life balance and of their health conscious lifestyle and how happy I’ve become and how much I’ve grown as a person.

But this does not have to do with a location– it has to do with a persons willingness to change along with their location. You can move from where you are tomorrow, but you still take all your baggage (mental and literal) with you. I moved to LA not only for professional reasons, but personal as well. I was ready to become a new and improved person. Moving across country gave me the opportunity to challenge myself in multiple ways. It has forced me to become more independent, more realistic and open minded. Taking a risk with almost no safety net allowed me to develop the confidence I was so lacking in New York. I was no longer content to make excuses for myself or my behavior. Becoming more self aware, I have let go of certain things (and certain people) it has largely been for the better. I think it is completely safe to say I have changed more in the last eight months than I have in the last eight years.

****

As the plane made its final descent through the heavy cloud base, I stuck to my routine: playing Closer to Home by GrandFunk Railroad. As the skyline came into view, it felt both foreign and familiar all at once. Tears welled in my eyes because as soon as I landed a countdown would begin: a countdown to returning to my actual home, Los Angeles. For the first time in my life I was tourist in New York. As my father drove toward the bagel store at 5am, not many words were spoken. I merely took in this familiar yet completely foreign place; this place which had not changed at all but me as a person, I had made extraordinary changes. I knew then I had made the difficult but right choice to leave behind a small town on the border of the world’s greatest city to become the best version of myself.

Earlier today I returned home from a movie with my mother. As I made plans for the second half of my trip, it occurred to me that it never feels like enough time with those I will leave behind again in just over a week. I began to cry, and it was just so random but it wasn’t: I knew I couldn’t just call my mom up to see a movie whenever I wanted. I couldn’t just drive over after work for a hot meal. I wondered, silently, how many years my mom has left and out of those years how many more times would I see her? It was a horribly morbid thought, but one which is not entirely without reason either. It wracked me with guilt all over again. Then I reminded myself that I finally -after all these years- had both my parents support. That’s because I have become the best version of myself, I have found great happiness in spite of this long distance. It made me realize the next logical step would be that if I can’t bring my family with me to California I would have to make a family in California myself.

So as we approach 2018, the year which will mark my 30th birthday I have made it a mission to start that quest. I am happier than I have ever been and I hope to be able to share that happiness with someone else. It is only logical to have that be the next step and I am finally ready for it. I think this trip is more than a homecoming, it is the turning of a page in a pivotal chapter in my life. I am no longer a child, but finally an adult. An adult in every sense of that word, not just an age approximation, but an adult; someone who has fully matured into themselves (while also realizing the continuous need for self improvement). I can’t say for sure what will happen over the next decade of my life, but I do hope it is happy and with many more happy milestones. I hope especially that it includes a family– that I can give someone the opportunity that I was provided and love someone back the way I have been loved. It is time to finally pack all of these game systems away and look upon my childhood bedroom not with sadness because I left but with great happiness because of leaving it and becoming who I have become.

2017 will probably be remembered as one of the most formative years of my life. I look forward to what 2018 and beyond will bring and in the interim I will enjoy every last second I have while in the present; to live and be present, to not always look ahead but to appreciate every moment so that when I look back upon my life I don’t feel as if anything was rushed. Goodbye 2017. Goodbye New York. Goodbye twenties. Hello to all that is yet to come. 

 

 

Faces Places

At any given moment greater Los Angeles has a population of just over four million people. Four million people cohabiting in a 503 square mile area. In addition to those four million, at any given time there are an additional 118,000 tourists with an average of 42.5 million visitors annually. Roughly 400,000 commute into Los Angeles from neighboring counties each day for work. So given these numbers, it’s safe to say that at any given time there are roughly five million people in Los Angeles. So what are the odds you cross paths with someone you know?

In order to answer this one would need to assess a few things. First let’s say you run into this hypothetical someone on a local street. How often do you use this street, how often do they? What is the relationship of this street to the total amount of streets in LA? What is the interval of time you spend on this street, and how much time do they spend on this street if at all?

Your probability of being on any given street is 1/n with n being the total number of streets in LA. Assuming this person chooses to be on another street than you, this is represented as (n – 1)/n. Assuming this happens most of the time, this series of events goes on- such as (n – 1/n) * (n – 1/n) etc. Now let’s assess intervals, or time. We’ll use x to represent that. So we have (n – 1/n) * (n -1/n) x times. Our x is the number of streets in your given city that you or your person of interest visits for any period of time. So to provide a probability for this, we’d have to write it as:
1 – (n – 1/n)^x
Where n is number of streets in LA.
Where x is number of streets you or your person of interest visits at some point.

Our city is LA, so in our case our X street of choice might be La Cienega or San Vincente- major north/south routes in the center of the city. Perhaps Sunset or Santa Monica. Also, where does the person live relative to you? How often do they venture out? What purpose would any one person have to be on that road at any given time- let alone the same time.

This is what makes this an incomplete equation. Without knowing the interval it’s impossible to give any degree of probability. Were you to chance it, your odds would be much higher running into someone who spends more time on any given route- like a major road. Your odds of running into someone on a small random road are near nonexistent since you or the other person never spend any interval of time there.

But where you each spend some degree of time on any single given road at an exact point, there is some chance you will cross paths. That chance only increases the more time we spend in a given area.

So in Los Angeles, where the social circle is small and the same faces frequent the same places, the odds might just be a lot higher than you think… In fact, according to some highly presumptuous thinking utilizing the methods outline above I’ve concluded it may be as high as 10%. Of course, there’s also the 90% chance you never run into that person again.

 

You Are Not Anonymous

I wanted to address something in very specific terms– that’s the often ignored fact that WE ARE NOT ANONYMOUS ON THE INTERNET.

While on its face this seems like commonly accepted knowledge, perhaps many don’t know the specifics, so that’s what I plan to address with this post.

WHAT DO SITE MASTERS KNOW?

For starters, they know your IP address you use to access the website, or page on the website. Nobody can access a web address without an IP. While you can use a VPN to mask your actually Internet Service Provider, and thus your approximate location, you cannot hide entirely.

Every time you comment. Every click on a page. Every refresh. Every point of navigation. It will be stored in a server log of that website. Other free sites also can retain records of traffic using plug-ins also, and so the site admin may not even need to own their own server!

HOW CAN YOU TELL ITS A VPN, DO YOU KNOW WHERE I AM?!

An IP address can only provide an approximate location. It will show the enter/exit times, and on many if not most servers- where the traffic originated from. A site master cannot see your actual address. If you use a VPN, that location will be masked with wherever the VPN location is from.

As for how one can tell it’s a VPN, it’s quite simple. Enter the IP address into a WhoIs check. Often times the ISP name which comes up under the service will point to a cloud or hosting service. In other words, the provider exists to provide hosting solutions, including dedicated IPs. Another way you can check is simply entering an IP into an IP lookup service and check the enter/exit nodes. If the person doesn’t hook up their VPN correctly you can see the enter and exit coming from one country and exiting (showing the IP on your server) in another. This is how I know my mentor still reads my blog.

However, you still cannot pinpoint location using a VPN. Especially a dedicated VPN which functions differently from an onion router (multiple enter and exit nodes). Mr. Producer is also very technologically savvy. He knows I can tell this information, because he chooses to leave bread crumbs by using the same dedicated Linux-based IP located in Paris, France. Now you can think what you want about that- but he has been using the same dedicated IP service to access my site since it began (when we still spoke), with only slight variations – like service provider name changes. Also, the way his VPN behaves in its exit node produces a double-click effect on my server in a microseconds apart interval (obvious multi-node VPN behavior)

WOW THAT’S A LOT- WHAT ELSE DO YOU KNOW

I can track social foot prints. I know how you access this site. 99% of my traffic comes from Twitter because that is the only place it is shared publicly. Sometimes my subscribers will access right in their feed on WordPress. Even if you copy/paste a link into a separate browser, I can still tell where you came from: Twitter probably. Yep- even you Paris. If you share it on FB or Email/IM I can see that too. When you comment on my blog, you are required to either be registered or use an email which only I can see. I can see that email- as when someone from the same IP makes bogus GMail accounts under the same IP address to leave comments doubting why I would continue to use this platform to communicate with a regular reader of my site.

CONCLUSION

This is just a basic WordPress site! Other major sites have even more data on you, as they also use sophisticated cookies and track you through the internet (I do not have ability to do this nor would I want to bc I don’t sell data, but FaceBook, Google, Amazon and others do!). When you commit cyber crimes, or stalk people, spam comments or troll- you are leaving bread crumbs that are very easy to track. While your location may not be available in exact detail, when a crime is committed, law enforcement can subpoena your ISP to find your real address. So please operate with the understanding that even basic sites can provide a treasure trove of information about you- the end user.

They know where your ISP is from (rough location). They know how you entered the site. They can detect VPN traffic (although not where it originated- i.e I can’t tell whether Mr. Producer is actually in Paris). They know what browser you or your VPN is using. They know how long you were on the site for. They know how often you return. They can see what time you entered down to the microsecond (i.e if it’s 4am in LA, it’s safe to say one is in Paris). On WordPress they know the email you used to comment. They can see who has subscribed to their blog.

If you tick off a site master for any reason, they have the knowledge and the know-how to take appropriate action. So be a good internet citizen and always keep this in mind.

Convoitise

Convoitise- it means lust in French. Lust, as in a desire. Of course just because we desire something doesn’t mean we’d ever deliberately act upon it. Sometimes it is fun to flirt. Other times one must remain conscious in a hyper sensitive environment. La convoitise is part of being human; to feel attracted to someone else. Allow me to introduce another word, responsabilité. As you can see from this cognate it means responsibility. Responsibility always comes before lust.

Whether at work, on the streets or among friends- we the have the responsibility to act appropriately. That means not acting upon our desire, or making someone feel uncomfortable. Intention doesn’t matter where perception is the reality. This is especially true in a professional sense because boundaries are far more stark and the consequences much more significant.

Yes lust is human. La convoitise est être humaine. We cannot help who we are attracted to. We CAN help how we act upon it.

I admit to occasionally flirting. I mean it harmlessly because I know that the feeling is not mutual. I once posted a picture of myself, tanned in a bikini, in the best shape of my life. I was laid out on a bed, in a hotel. The caption may not have indicated much, but I’m sure the implication was clear. I was dumb and 25. I would never post something like that now. Even had they showed up, what would come of that? Nothing good. Nonetheless I did it, and have occasionally continued to blur that line between professional and ‘completely inappropriate.’

I can completely understand why one would be nervous to meet on the basis of that one-sided attraction. But what is important to note is that I understand that responsibility comes before lust. While I happen to think one is incredibly handsome, I value professionalism above all else. I would never do anything to jeopardize an opportunity to learn from a successful person that I admire above all else. Honestly I suppose the only reason I flirt is because I want to flatter. But it’s not flattery if the person is uncomfortable, and so I apologize if I ever made someone feel that way.

Interesting to note how social media also allows us to flirt in ways we never had available before. It’s easier to flirt when you don’t get the awkward reaction in front of you. It’s also kind of lazy. For one, I know the introvert and shy person in me would be afraid to speak to this person let alone flirt with them. I’d be mortified. In fact I’m kind of mortified just imagining their reaction. But to post passive jokes about silver foxes is so effortlessly easy. But just because something is easy doesn’t mean we should do it.

I’ve asked for coffee because it is a platonic form of meeting (as opposed to drinks or hotels). My desire is purely professional because we like the same genres and I think I have a lot to offer them, and in return would love to learn from someone I’ve long admired, and who himself learned from one of my favorite people in the business.

Mais la convoitise est être humaine. Et je suis très désolé si mes blagues à fait vous sentir inconfortable. Je les regrette sincèrement. Je souhaite vous et vos famille un joyeuse noel et bonne santé pour 2018.

Regrets

What if tomorrow you woke up, left your house and got into a horrible accident, becoming a paraplegic- or worse, died?

It’s a horrible thought, but a distinct possibility for any one of us in a given day. We all like to think we have time on our side. We operate under the assumption that what can’t be finished today can be completed tomorrow. We put off risk and things which make us uncomfortable, hoping to find that perfect moment when maybe things would ideally suit taking that risk, or talking to that person. We assume that we have time. If death is a destiny we all share then it must also be said that some will arrive at that destination sooner than others.

A life is best lived without regrets. If you were to wind up in some awful situation tomorrow, one would hope that you did your best to lead a full life up until then.

If a life is to be lived without regrets, then it must also apply to when we look back upon actions we never took. Maybe twenty, thirty- forty years from now you will lie old in your bed. You might think about some actions you never took. Maybe you didn’t apply to that job. Perhaps you never pursued the career you wanted. Or you never made the effort to meet with someone you may have at one point wanted to. Maybe you wish you could have hired or worked with someone who went on to become accomplished.

Point is, if you have those thoughts then it’s because you failed to try now. Apply to that job. Pursue that career. Talk to that person and meet with them. If your instincts suggest someone is talented, incubate it and ally with that talent. The only way to live life without regrets is to stop putting off to tomorrow what you can do today. Stop making excuses and stop looking for the perfect time to do so- there won’t ever be a perfect time. There will never be an ideal moment. Do not wait.

Learn to listen to what the universe is telling you. Appreciate and respect fate. Follow what is in your gut, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Pursue something- someone -no matter what others think or say. Follow through with what you know to be right, even if sometimes it’s scart because it might be wrong. Trust yourself. True yourself and you will live with as few regrets as possible.

I don’t want to live with regrets. Nobody wants to live with regrets. Stop making excuses and start acting today. Whether your fate is to die in bed, or to die by accident, hope that you let go of life with as few regrets as possible. Hope that you fulfill as much as you could have, and start today, not tomorrow, not next week, not next year: TODAY.

Expanded Universes Are Killing The Movies As We Know It

Very hyperbolic title, I know, but in a way it’s partially true. That’s because films that make up a larger cinematic universe often fail to exist as memorable movies on their own. These films are so concerned with setting up the next chapter that they fail to stand out as their own story. They merely exist as a sort of service. While fans are happy to keep turning out to see each chapter, it seems even they are just looking forward to the next one. I’d argue that this is very bad for storytelling as we know it.

Back in the halcyon days of the original Star Wars, The Godfather— films were written with each individual outing in mind. While Star Wars and The Godfather were both trilogies, they were written as such. The films understood that they needed to be grounded in a particular character’s journey to be convincing. Star Wars saw Luke go from farm boy to Jedi over its original trilogy. The Godfather saw the birth of the Corleone family. Godfather’s I & II are each masterpieces in their own right (we can debate the merit of III).

Today’s expanded universe films are not trying to be quality, or good films. They are an example of the power of modern marketing. If The Godfather were made today, someone in studio marketing with a convincing spreadsheet might fight to greenlight Fredo: Origins to appeal to fans of the original. People would probably show up too. But would it be a good film? Does a character like Fredo even need his own film? I would say No in both cases. That is the problem which plagues modern cinematic universe films. The characters are just not interesting because they are not set up to be. They are set up to participate in an All Star game of sorts in the inevitable cameo film that often serves as the centerpiece to these universes. In a way they are all supporting cast, like Fredo. Fredo is memorable because he is utilized just enough. He served his story well.

Do these modern films serve their story well? They are nearly all rote and formulaic, meant to sell tickets to the next installation. Can you even tell me what the first THOR film was about? How about IRON MAN 2? Who was the focus of THE FORCE AWAKENS? Maybe you remember MAN OF STEELE? Or AVENGERS I? In fact, I’m sure the diehard fans might be able to recount in detail all of this without googling but the average movie goer probably cannot. That’s a failure of story telling because these films are simply not memorable. Even among those fans, can you recount a bit of dialog or a moment which really stood out in any of these films? Did we need a prequel to A NEW HOPE in ROGUE ONE? So much of these films feel spectacularly redundant: huge set-pieces built around weak characters that serve as mere plot advancement.

That’s all these films are: plot advancement. A roll out of endless sequels, prequels and chapters into 2030 and beyond. Any decent writer will tell you that simply using a character as plot advancement does not make for good story telling. It is dull, and hard for us to really care about those we are supposed to root for. Why do I care about Fin or Rey in STAR WARS? What about them makes them good characters, that they are inherently good in a world full of Storm Troopers and villains? That’s not good enough. Perhaps due to the half a century of character development you might be able to argue more in terms of the super hero films, even then they are not given much to do apart from set up the next film. When Nolan did the BATMAN trilogy, it was focused and Batman simply existed in his own universe. He wasn’t setting up  a JUSTICE LEAGUE, or making DC cameos. It was its own trilogy, grounded and focused and for that reason it was good!

I don’t expect to get rid of the current model because it is insanely profitable. There’s nothing inherently wrong either in having a cinematic universe. but if we are to continue with the lazy way in which they are turned out, then I’m not certain I can support them. These films are given such a short deadline, with millions- heck billions at stake. They aren’t just tentpoles, they are the very foundation on which these studio systems lie. As such, there are too many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to adding to the foundation. At some point the studios needs to just trust the chefs they hire to make a good individual product. The level of micromanagement is turning out bland films which do their jobs in terms of sales and quickly fade from the public conscious as the next trailer drops. This is bad for movies, it is bad for story telling and it is bad for the cinematic universes themselves. Demand better, and maybe next time that super hero story gets really bad reviews, vote with your wallet and stay home instead.

Memories Melodies

The past falls like dust on old records,
but this song remains the same.
It grows older but the lyrics never change.

The melodies grow fainter and the print on the jacket may fade. But every time I play this tune yesterday still feels like today.

Time doesn’t stop and the music may change. But this song will always be that year, that moment, and that day.

This moment on repeat, a never ending loop. The soundtrack to our lives edges ever closer to a final tune.

I dust off these records, give it another play but for this painful reminder that yesterday can never ever be today.

The past falls like dust on old records,
but this song remains the same.
Ten years gone but the lyrics they never change.

Repeat Ghosting

Repeat Ghosting

Ghosting is the act whereby someone stops talking to you, ceasing all communication and interaction without notice or reason. It is commonly done in modern romantic relationships but extends to platonic and professional relationships as well.

The psychological impact can be quite damaging, the victim is not provided any sense of closure. Often times they wind up questioning themselves, and can even wind up in gaslighting territory.

Ghosting for the most part is an act of finality. However it’s important to note that the act of ghosting isn’t necessarily confined to a one time disappearing act.

Repeat ghosting functions more like a haunt. The person still drops off without any communication or reason. However, every so often they will either reach out or find a way of passively interacting.

Some might say that’s not ghosting because the person hasn’t disappeared. They’re still there! What makes it repeat ghosting is that it becomes like a pattern: person disappears; person reappears for a while; person disappears again.

Perhaps this is the behavior of someone who isn’t fully committed to the ghost. They’re not ready to enter into a committed professional or personal relationship again so they sort of keep you on the back burner. They observe- they haunt.

However the impact on the person at the receiving end of this pattern of behavior still reacts the same as someone who has been ghosted— “what have I done to make them go away again? Was it something I did or said? What must I do to convince them to stay (or return)?”

Ghosting may not be intended to hurt someone. In fact it’s often done because social media has made it easier to do. It’s often employed by someone who may not have the right words to say. Among others it’s done by those who aren’t sure of how to approach someone. Maybe it’s not the right time. I would venture to say few ghosters are deliberately acting with malice.

That does little to comfort those on the receiving end of ghosting. Nor does it attempt to excuse the act itself. It is however important not to personalize it. I know that’s hard but the best way to treat this phenomenon is to understand that it’s literally not you, it is them.

In order to get past this difficult and common 21st century interaction, we must learn to not get emotional about it. I get that this is hard because the feelings are still hurt, I’ve been there myself. But don’t go down the rabbit hole of wondering why because you will never find an answer- you will never convince the ghost to act in a way that makes them present again.

Unless they want to be.

Intentions

Intentions.

Intentions don’t mean a thing when perception is reality. This is a crucial thing to understand as we try and dissect what constitutes harassment. It is equally crucial in trying to ascertain whether we have come across inappropriately- falling short of harassment but still making someone feel uncomfortable.

What is harassment? I think this term has been interpreted to be rather subjective. It’s really not. Simply it is the repeated behavior of bothering someone whether intended or not. It need not be physical either. Inappropriate comments of a sexual nature, even something as innocuous as “that dress is very flattering on you,” can be perceived as harassment. The degree of harassment may vary but it is still a form of harassment.

What about when it’s consensual? Just because something was consensual doesn’t mean it will continue to be. That you may have gotten away with flirting or maybe even sleeping together in the past doesn’t mean you will tomorrow. Respecting boundaries is important. Not mixing business and pleasure is also good advice to live by.

How about female harassment? Most of the discussion surrounding sexual harassment is regarding male to female. Women can also make a man feel uncomfortable. This is tricky because it’s also the case that men are less likely to say something about it due to cultural perception of weakness. Some men may even feel flattered by compliment but intention is not what matters. Perception is. Some men may also feel uncomfortable given comments made.

Let’s really take a few more moments to examine how females can appear out of line while not realizing it. That’s the thing, culturally we have treated harassment as almost unique to men. But women often make comments because they’re trying to play the same game. They realize when they’re attractive and when they see a man who is also attractive, they’ll be a little more comfortable flirting because it’s not as common for a man to complain. So maybe you refer to that sexy guy as a ‘silver fox’ but never consider that maybe it makes them feel uncomfortable. Maybe they have a girlfriend. Perhaps it’s not consensual. They won’t always say it, they may even flirt back because of social customs around male-female dynamics but it doesn’t mean they’re ok with it.

Harassment is such a tricky thing because oftentimes the victim may not immediately say anything or note that it bothers them. So it’s really up to all of us-male or female- to carefully choose our words, especially when it involves a professional context or a person we’d aspire to work with.

Complements are not always complements and it’s easy to overlook that when we read about instances of touching, coercion and dick pics. Harassment is nuanced and must be treated as such. We’re all responsible for better filtering our comments and carefully managing our actions. If in a position of power, don’t tolerate it. It really boils down to those who can afford to speak out so that a workplace isn’t a breeding ground for predators who feel as if their actions won’t be reprimanded. Understand the dynamics between the powerful and the powerless and whether something is really consensual. Remember that just because you intended it otherwise, harassment isn’t about intention, it’s about perception.