A word of caution for interactions on social media

I am a lesbian. Like most of you, I have a Facebook account that I use to connect with other queer people. I receive confusing messages from so many people on that account. I am in my thirties, and I was 18 or 19 when I had my first female lover. I say all this to demonstrate that I am not new to the queer community, to the culture, or to dating.

Although most of the names used are women’s names, you can often tell easily that they were written by a male who knows nothing about the style that lesbians use. In fact, if I wait a day or two without responding, that person will send me a picture of a penis. 

Another way that they reach out to me is by saying they are young and new to the community. They then ask for ideas on how to meet other queer people. This approach has the potential to risk not only your safety but also that of others in the queer community. 

It seems simple to identify these people through the approaches that they use, but I often wonder if they are sometimes successful, and that scares me. It makes me sad when I think about how it puts those who have recently come out and joined social media at risk. While I can’t offer a manual, I can think of a few questions like the following that can guide us: Who are the people who are sending us messages? Who are our common friends? Who has commented and tagged them, and whose comments have they tagged? Who do they know?

We are, of course, not obligated to respond to all messages.

We can also glean some ideas about who a person is from the content of their online presence.

Perhaps you too can share your strategies to stay safe on social media.

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