Thursday, December 12, 2013

Stranger Danger

I hate when strangers adopt a false sense of familiarity with me. I can't stand when telemarketers answer your hello with a friendly "Hey Amanda!" so I don't hang up right away, struggling to match that voice with someone I actually know.I don't want a waitress to scoot into the booth while I order just to be the cool staff who chats with my group. I don't want people to knock on my door with the secret friend or whatever knock when they're showing up to proselytize. 

I'm not offended by strangers introducing themselves to me. 

In fact, I introduce myself to strangers pretty regularly. It's one thing to turn around at the bar and ask the guys at the table behind you if they chose the music on the jukebox. It's fine to find someone on social media and comment on their blog, tweets, whatever. It starts a getting to know you process. 

Sometimes that process goes quickly. You can bond with other women in the ladies room in no time if you're both drunk and putting on lip gloss. You can make fast friends when someone else jumps onto the dance floor at the same time you do. You feel pretty close to people after spending a few hours next to them on an airplane. But you have to go through SOME kind of process. You find common ground, even if that's just "we shared an armrest for 4 hours and also helped each other with that crossword puzzle in the in-flight magazine."

But you can't jump into familiarity. When you approach me and address me casually and use some ridiculous pet name, like we go way back, we have a problem. I received a message on facebook, from someone I do not know, with no mutual friends. His message starts with, "Hello my dear." I'm not your dear. I'm not your anything. (And if you're wondering if a 50-something man tried to hit on me, you're correct.) Delete.

This week I received both a friend request and a message from another random--we have literally nothing in common to suggest how he found me. "You're really pretty. Don't be shy. Can we be friends?" NOPE. Also I don't plan on being shy, I plan on ignoring you. I don't know you. 

You have to let me learn enough that I want to be your friend! Will we have stuff to talk about? What kind of stuff would we do together? Will you send me entertaining snapchats? Can I repeatedly send you links to things I found on youtube? These are things I think about when considering a new friendship. 

It's one thing to introduce yourself to a strange. It's another to act like the introduction is your favorite inside joke and demand their time and attention. Strangers don't owe you anything, so don't be a creep. Not to mention, Random Facebook Guy, I don't know that I want to be friends with Regina "you're really pretty" George. That just makes me think you're going to talk behind my back after I thank you. 

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