This week is going to be more about me asking you questions than me going off on a rant. I am legitimately curious as to whether some of the things I’ve experienced and/or heard hold true for everybody or if my own particular experience is just plain weird (note, I’m not inviting people to confirm if *I* am weird. We already know the answer to that).
So, normally when you think about sites like Twitter or Facebook, you think about the great big wide public domain, right? Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of your peers and colleagues. However, most social platforms have a way around this. On Twitter you can “direct message” people so that you are just talking to them. On Facebook there is a similar messaging system.
In my experience, and this is just my experience, the primary users of these more private messaging systems or women. Women tend to direct message me for the following reasons:
1. To share a post they have written (I don’t know that I’ve ever gotten a direct message from a man for these purposes)
2. To complain about another person (I think I have only gotten 3 direct messages from men in this category)
I myself tend to use direct messages or Facebook messages if I want to converse in a way that might not fit with how I converse on the wide open platform. If I want to share a funny observation, verbalize a complaint, or just check on someone who seems to not be doing well, I tend to use the private messaging system for whatever platform I’m on.
How does your community work? Do you see direct messages pretty frequently from both men and women? Do you feel that men and women use private messaging with different motivations? Does my experience sound pretty typical to yours or do you experience something different?
Using direct messages for abuse
Beyond this question, there is also the sad fact that some people opt to use private messages to bully other people. I have only heard women verbalize this kind of situation so I am wondering if men experience it too. Believe it or not, I have heard women say that they have received, via direct message, very inappropriate messages regarding their appearance or messages with not so subtle sexual undertones. With all of the talk about bullying, I find it disconcerting that there could be so much abuse going on where people can’t step in to intercede. I find myself wondering how much of this goes on beyond our ability to see, and how many people simply delete these messages, feel hurt, and do nothing because it is all behind the privacy curtain.
If you or someone you know has ever received these kinds of damaging private messages, I can only encourage you, whether man or woman, to vocalize your concerns. Just because it was a private message does not reduce the impact it can have on a person.
So now it’s your turn
What is your experience with the underground, behind the curtain, “private” sector of the online world? Do you notice different behaviors between men and women? How so?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stargardener/6127906816/ via Creative Commons