When I was a teenager, I was good friends with this guy. He used to ask me out. A lot. After a while, I said yes (I’m not sure why. I think my brother talked me into it…).
We met, I got into the car, and then we drove. Not to a restaurant. Not to the movies. But to a grocery store 24 miles away from my home. I was completely confused, and I was even more bewildered when we went into the store, and he didn’t buy anything. We just sort of wandered the aisles without a cart, then we went outside, until he found what he needed. It was another girl, who was gathering carts in the lot. She was worn-out, and at the end of her shift.
He introduced me to her. And, after a couple of moments of painfully awkward conversation, I realized that she was someone that he had just broken up with, and he wanted to make sure she knew that he had moved on.
Or was he trying to make me feel jealous?
Who knows. It was just one of those weird things that people do when they are in high school. Whatever it was, the ex looked crushed and I thought it was quite cruel that he went out of our way to make sure that she saw me. Not to mention a waste of my night. Clearly, in my mind, any “date” that might have occurred that night was over as quickly as it began.
My friend was not so eager to give it up though. In the midst of that long, miserable “you’re just not the guy for me” month, I found him, late one night, outside of my window, hiding in the shadows, watching me.
I’m not sure how often he did it. That may have been the only time. But, it wasn’t the only time that I was stalked. Usually, it was in the midst of adolescent angst, when we had all of those heightened hormonal emotions and feeling of rejection.
I bring all of this up because I just led a webinar on Social Media Strategies for Alban, and there were questions from a woman who identified herself as single. She had concerns that were particular to her context, and they made me wonder…. Plus, my husband was out of town, and so I found myself less willing to Twitter my every move. I would write down what I did after I was done, but not beforehand.
I guess it made me aware of the vulnerable position we put ourselves in, as women and/or as pastors.
I wonder if we need to think about these things a bit more. Put together a Smart Women’s Social Media Safety Guide or a Clergy Cyber-Stalk Protection Policy. ‘Cause, face it, whether we are women or men, we’ve all had one of those parishioners who takes a little too much interest in what we’re up to.
Maybe that’s going too far, but I guess we could at least talk about the potential dangers. If you feel like you might be cyber-stalked, what do you do? What do you leave out of your updates? Do you have any general guidelines to keep you safe?
photo by O C E A N