A little while back someone I didn’t know replied to something I’d posted on Twitter. This, in itself, it not unusual, my account isn’t protected and part of the beauty of twitter is being able to talk to people who you haven’t met but who you share interests with. So, it’s not the first time this has happened. On this occasion, for convenience, let’s call the person who tweeted at me Dave, which is not his name.
Dave’s tweet was innocuous enough (although I can’t remember the topic and I can’t find it now for reasons that will become obvious). I replied and the conversation ended. I thought nothing more of it until a couple of weeks later I had an @-mention from him that wasn’t related to anything I’d been tweeting about. He said something along the lines of, “What are you up to? I’m in Glasgow until 4.”
So that’s pretty weird in itself. It reads like something I’d expect to get from someone I know, rather than from a stranger. Possibly it could be from a stranger if it was one I’d tweeted to a lot and we had vague plans to meet and chat about something in detail (this had occasionally happened, usually when someone wants to discuss science or public outreach plans, and usually when we have a mutual friend).
I checked out his profile. I wasn’t following him and, apart from the fact that he was in computer science and based in Edinburgh I couldn’t figure out why he would follow me. Incidentally, he seems to be Scotland’s only Donald Trump fan. Bizarre, but maybe his profile was intended to be sarcastic. I replied with something like, “I’m at work. Do I know you?” He didn’t respond. So, fine.
Note that that isn’t a warm response. It’s acknowledging the contact and it’s questioning why the contact was made. It’s not rude either, I’m just trying to figure out who this guy is and why he wants to talk to me. I’m giving him the option to explain what he wants. He doesn’t take it but that’s not a problem.
A few days later I tweeted about seeing a movie and enjoying it. He tweeted that he had to and asked if I’d seen another movie yet. I said I hadn’t and he said that we should go. I said “no, thank you.” Again, the conversation ended there. I’m thinking either one of two things is going on – he wants a science-y (and science is full of lonely people) or this was a date. Either way, I think it has been made pretty clear that I’m not interested.
A couple of days later he tweets something like, “Hi Becky, I love your hair, you can follow me if you like.” Ok, this is a pet hate. I know how Twitter works – unless an account is protected I can follow anyone if I like. If I’ve been interacting with someone on Twitter and I haven’t followed them it’s not because I don’t know that I can. It’s because I don’t want to. Probably because they like Donald Trump although that isn’t necessarily the only reason.
Since I now have a direct compliment I’m thinking that cinema comment from earlier was probably him trying to get me on a date. He’s not been rude, though, he’s just not taking the hint (or, you know, the direct rejection, but whatever). Since he hasn’t really been a dick I do follow him back, because that will allow me to send him private messages. This way I can confirm whether or not he’s after a date and, if he is, I can reject him more clearly without the situation being public and embarrassing for him. See how nice I am?
Before I can type the first private message I have one from him. Below follows a transcript of our chat:
Becky: Hi Dave. Perhaps I’m getting the wrong idea but did you intend your suggestion for a cinema trip to be a date?