How to put Facebook stalkers in their place

Published: January 26, 2015

You click on his profile. He seems to be male. You decide to have some fun and teach him a lesson.

You’re bored on a Friday night. Between watching a rom-com on your laptop and gossiping with your mother, you notice that a stranger is repeatedly writing to you on Facebook in ways that give you shudders of loathing. You click on the profile. He seems to be male. You have had it with these men thinking they can get away with ‘little’ things like these. You are done and today, you decide to teach him a lesson.

All the responses made to him (reproduced below) were being simultaneously typed by me into a Word document for the purpose of this blog. I was copying them online to the gentleman in question.

Mister says: “Faiza hi, I still remember you from when we last met”….

(Didn’t reply. Messages like these do little to ripple the nonchalance of an average Pakistani girl. Abuses, offensive language, pictures of genitalia, most of us have faced it all. This kind of stalking is now something we have begun to deem as fairly harmless. I ignored this message, thinking that he will soon realise that he is mistaken in knowing me. Or that he’ll get tired and walk away.)

Mister says: “Hello, do you remember me?”

(More ignoring)

Mister says: “Do you remember that day”….

(Now I was super-irritated. I had loads of time on my hands so I switched off my movie, decided to write an article, and later leak it for the benefit of other people of my gender.)

Me: No, I do not remember that day. And you’re making a very mediocre effort at pretending that you do, too. I happen to have a dazzling memory which enables me to recall the name of every single kindergarten teacher I had. I can see that you are stealthily framing this interaction into one which you feel will elicit a guaranteed response from me. One which denies me the transparency of your true intentions. One which denies me as much choice as possible in yielding to those intentions. One which tricks me into giving you an adrenaline rush.

If I were someone without these sensibilities, I would be bemused, brimming with questions, writing back to you in an apologetic wonderment, asking you to remind me where we have met, and you would have dished out some sorry tale or another, while basking in the glory of having accrued the attention of a female in cyber space. Which, of course, is what you were seeking in the first place. Victory for you; you have successfully pilfered the compliance of a woman, that poor thing, who is now responding to your debase self, giving you some kind of sick thrill, while you erect a castle of sappiness in cyber smog and fantasise, fantasise, fantasise.

There is actually nothing wrong with connecting with strangers online. People enjoy knowing new people, others like the secrecy and ease of online affairs, some like to use Facebook for dating. Using the internet in this fashion does not make anyone a depraved person. What makes you depraved, on the other hand, is sustaining this fakery of former acquaintanceship, which indicates that you, yourself, feel guilty about interacting with strangers on the internet, while indulging in the same. This, incidentally, shows that you are an abominable hypocrite with a moral compass that runs completely amok.

I would be bowing down to you in respect if you had said something like:

“Hi, you look interesting. I occasionally like to connect with strangers and learn about them (I also kinda like the idea of dating online, do you?). Are you up for chatting sometimes?”

Mister says: “Why are you so judgmental? I thought that you were a classmate from XXXXXXXX University.”

Me: You sure didn’t because my school, my university, and my workplace listings on Facebook are all accessible to public and so are yours.

Mister says: “Ok, I apologise. Just wanted to be your friend. Please calm down.”

Me: My dear boy, the problem lies in your conduct, not mine. I am, firstly, not facing a dearth of calm. Putting men like you in their place is standard fare for me, both in the real and virtual world. My return onslaught is probably something that you don’t frequently encounter. Which is why you feel the need to protest this little ‘tumult’ that I seem to cause in the serene seas of male entitlement. Which you are doing by trying to indicate that I, the agitating, angry, complaining woman, is the one at fault, and your aggressive headway into life of any woman you fancy is the ‘norm’, which ‘crazies’ like me are threatening. Calm down yourself. And maybe f**k off too.

Mister says: “Ok, sorry, I apologise again for my behaviour. You were right, I didn’t know you. Not all men are bad so please don’t judge everyone for what I did.”

(I made no reply. That ‘not-all-men’ argument again, which is now the most passé thing ever. This guy is so dumb that he wasn’t even fun to argue with.)

Mister says: “This is no attempt to talk to you. Just wanted you to know that this is what I needed to help myself. So thanks.”

(*yawns* No reply)

Mister says: “I didn’t understand the morality bit. Can you please explain further?”

Me: No.

Mister says: “Stop misbehaving.”

Me: No.

Mister says: “And how dare you jump into conclusions about my intentions? How much weight do girls lose by jumping into conclusions?”

Me: Ah, so now you’re angry because you feel I have denied you some kind of warmth that I owed you after your make-believe apologies? You amuse me. Firstly, wayward mounds of hormones like you are the reason so many girls steer clear from the public space which, by the way, includes cyber space. They have to constantly be on guard, attentive to their safety and make exhaustive checks of privacy lest a leech, such as you, clings to them and refuses to let go. These maidenly scruples deter many girls from taking full advantage of the many freedoms that you enjoy and take for granted. For instance, the freedom of not having to constantly check if any creepy boys can see the Facebook photos she is tagged in, the freedom of scribbling down her phone number on the contact list of a favourite clothing outlet, the freedom of giving her email address unthinkingly to a public relations officer, the freedom of walking into a sheesha spot on her own, the freedom, also, of saying a platonic kind word to a similar leech character. Because the hormones might just torpedo in diabolical frenzy, and she will have to spend a lifetime explaining to you that she had no intention of pandering to you sexually. How does one get sexually attracted to a leech anyway? Eww.

Secondly, my dear boy, may I remind you that you, yourself, admitted to lying about knowing me beforehand. So my ‘conclusion’ was pretty much the truth and you have been stung because your trickery doesn’t seem to pay off for once. You have already admitted that there was no old acquaintanceship between us. Which effectively means that I was correct in spotting your guile. Moreover, that your true aims had to masquerade as something else before they were ripped apart by me makes you a very sketchy person. It makes your claim of trying to be ‘friends’ with me all the more sketchy.  You do not want to be friends with me. You are seeking something from me which makes you very, very guilty. Which is why you lied about the nature of this interaction. Which is why you are again lying again about wanting to be ‘friends’. Which is why you continue to talk to me from under a thousand veneers.

(Forgot to comment on his jibe on my weight. Damn!)  

Mister says: “What’s with the attitude? You think you are all that huh? And how dare you call me a hypocrite and a leech. Attention-seeking women like you are hypocrites. Your messaging option is open and your picture and details are public. What’s wrong with someone trying to message you? Stop being so full of yourself.”

Me: I think I’m ‘all that’? Hmm. Tough one. I’m a living, breathing, thinking human being who has some talents, some inadequacies, some pride, some limitations and lots and lots of insecurities. But no matter what inadequacies or insecurities I may have, I consider myself consummately superior to those who lurk around the internet like predators — oh, sorry, parasites — beguiling others, beguiling themselves.

No, I will not take down my pictures, or re-do my privacy settings to fortify myself from your impropriety. The onus of correction is on those who trample upon my cyber personhood; I will not eclipse myself to cede space to aggressors. I keep part of my profile public because it helps friends, acquaintances and potential employers trace me. I put up pictures because I like putting up pictures and my friends like to see them. I am far from being a pretty girl by conventional standards of beauty, but I am certainly human enough to enjoy a compliment or two about the way I look, from men and women I know and trust.

Yes, my presence on the internet means that anyone is able to get in touch with me. But I must know why someone is in touch with me, so that I am afforded the choice of sanctioning or declining their inclusion in my life. I will chat with friends on Gmail, interact informally with colleagues on Facebook, share jokes with former professors, former students, my relatives, my hairdresser. Members of the male gender engage in harmless flirting, which I sometimes enjoy, and feel no shame in responding to. I am, however, not open to indiscriminate socialising or flirting. I do not use the internet to find dinner dates, or weekend hook-ups, or life partners. I am not a self-righteous prude, but I can’t help being selective at some level. Which is why I must always know.

Being an adult human, one may admire and want to connect with several people, but the heartbreak of them not digging you in the same way is very real, sure and crushing. Nothing that one can’t come to terms with, but. Every thinking human being understands that people’s comfort levels with them can vary. On the other hand, bullying your way into the lives of people, trespassing their boundaries, manipulating them into yielding to you, makes you a culprit and them a victim. Incidentally, I don’t even think you admire me in any way; save for, perhaps, the fact that I am a female. Not sure why you’d admire someone just because their nether regions seem to be ‘probably’ different from yours.

Most people understand that human connection is primarily a tricky business of vibes, nuances, body language and non-verbal cues. This is the common parlance through which requests of connection or detachment are made and decisions conveyed. It is only when these fail that one resorts to the spoken word. In your case, my dear, it seems that the spoken word, too, holds little sway.  Long story short, the fact that I am on the internet, the fact that you can see my pictures, the fact that you have access to some information about me, does not indicate that you are welcome to negotiate my personhood in any way you want. My presence has been tailored in a way that suits me; rather rich of you to think that I am inviting you.

Mister says: “I don’t understand. All I’m saying is that I saw your picture and your profile and messaged you. What’s so problematic about that? If you don’t want me to message you, you can just tell me.”

Me: Don’t message me.

Mister says: “I’m not one of those people you think. All men are not bad. Besides women are also to blame as I explained to you earlier. Why can’t we just be friends?”

Me: Right, so let’s get this straight: I told you not to message me, and you continue to message me. Hmm. Messy. Very messy.

Here’s what I’m now gonna do, sweetie: I will move the FIA’s National Response Centre for Cyber Crimes against you by lodging a complaint with the Director of the Islamabad headquarters, under clauses 13 and 14 of presidential ordinance No. LXXII of 2007. This will make for the equivalent of an FIR. The FIA cybercrimes wing famed for being super responsive and helpful. Those guys are the best.

(At this point, monsier did something to his messaging feature which made it impossible for me to write to him further or click on his profile. Oh the irony! I’m generally a bit clueless about Facebook settings, but a friend explained that he had blocked me. I guess he didn’t enjoy the constant badgering!)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • anon

    Aamir Liaquat’s solution to this is to just ban Facebook.Recommend

  • Idrees

    Faiza hi, I still remember you from when we last met?Recommend

  • نائلہ

    Facebook is a waste of time I tell you, those who want to remain your friends will have you on viber/whatsapp. I will suggest twitter if not those, cos at least you will learn something new!Recommend

  • Nandita.

    You wanna fraandship with me? I, myself, _____ from ______. I am looking for pure friendship and more if you like it also. My number is _____. I am new in the city and lonely for love.You can call in the night, I am awake all night, every night. You will call , no? I am good boy.Recommend

  • Nandita.

    Facebook can be fun as well. If you limit your friends list to people you like and trust, it can be fun.Recommend

  • [email protected]

    Jeezus! Talk about flying off the handle. :/Recommend

  • Nabila

    You are a brave girl. Shine on!!!Recommend

  • Atif

    He is not a that bad person………… you were not reasonable in your conversation, I mean, do you really think your this action snubbed him? you could have used some other method as well to refrain/ stop him.Recommend

  • Critical

    I remember the time when my gf was pestered by someone whom she didnt even know…

    The only mistake she ever did was to comment on a page…

    She had so much good mornings,good nights,shayaris,poems,picture messages that even I started feeling inadequate…

    After a week of non-response,she got tired and replied back telling she’s not interested in frienship…

    He first started convincing her,then it led to begging her and then it changed to get accused as a snob and then he started using a word Jesse Pinkman uses in “Breaking Bad”

    That was the straw,she blocked him but next day,he was messaging again with another Newly created ID with vile words dragging her entire family…

    Thats when I informed few of my friends,they bombarded him with messages of equal intensity and flooded his inbox…He got his lesson and stopped messaging…Recommend

  • Pieliedie

    All this over a message…much ninja warriors. You can just Block him away.Recommend

  • umer q

    A simple solution could have been that you could have blocked the user. As I do. I think we encourage them by replyingRecommend

  • ustaad

    What a waste of time..y on earth would you reply to stalkers..ignore them or block them Recommend

  • ShoukaT

    WoW, bravo for overreacting…. I wonder what would you do if someone accidentally tried to talk to you in real life… and then feminists talk about equality… SMHRecommend

  • Thomas Aquinas

    You have Fallen from Grace, Rahman. There was a time your content had substance…Recommend

  • Umar

    No offence, but I thought you were being a shodi more than trying to detract him from his goal. Not to say what he did was good but I think you went overboard when you could’ve just blocked him after proving your point to him in these messages, rather than arguing with him. Or was it all for the blog?Recommend

  • Amna Saeed

    You should have just blocked the guy. Easiest
    way to resolve this issue.Recommend

  • Amna Saeed

    You should have just blocked the guy. Easiest

    way to resolve this issue.Recommend

  • Saad A. Shah

    Dear Faiza,

    Hi, you look interesting. I occasionally like to connect with strangers and learn about them (I also kinda like the idea of dating online, do you?). Are you up for chatting sometimes?

    - Plain Reader & No Stalker!Recommend

  • Talha

    I only read the first convo and I am out of here!!!!

    Sorry but totally made up!!Recommend

  • Rukhsar

    Why ? Because she happens to step on the ego of a man ?? This is something that should have been discussed long back. And the content is the same enriching and graceful. I don’t see anything wrong with that.Recommend

  • Rukhsar

    Male chaivinism at its peak !Recommend

  • Rukhsar

    Excellent article Faiza, and very informative with regard to the cyber crime complaint ! This is the best way to fight these perverts.Recommend

  • Sohail Abbasi

    Fb is all based stalking so if the online drama queens or burqa ninjas care much for the word PRIVACY facebook is not their place or just block the person can work instead of complaining the whole world about any stalker stupid articleRecommend

  • Faiza Rahman

    Thanks for the feedback. It was all for the blog.Recommend

  • Mani

    have to give it to them both…persistent as (am I allowed to swear here?) She did right by the way. She shouldn’t have to hide from creeps. Sort of sounds like she has a good time bashing morons. Girl Power!Recommend

  • Iftikhar Shah Gilani

    Simply block the strangers instead of Chatting with him/her for hours just to reliaze him/her that he/she is stranger for you.Recommend

  • Ali Ahmed

    im surprised to read all that.. u seriously need to find some hobbyRecommend

  • Raza

    Certainly an excellent effort for blog sake. Honestly in reality, such long replies are boring to read he might had read potions of it at first place. I would never write such long essays to make my point. Another Opinion: you heavily relied on your judgement and experience i guess, but if you really made mistake someday, would you be bold enough to accept that first paragraph was height of Judgement. (I know most girls have so many such encounter that they can’t mistake a stalker but in a guy point of view, this is kind of opening paragraph which doesn’t encompass all required evidences to justify language used). Oh yeah “Wayward mound of hormones” lolRecommend

  • ayesha

    you have just overreacted Recommend

  • shahnawaz

    Lmao! Taught that creep a lesson. Gonna show this to my sistersRecommend

  • Faiza Rahman

    Thank you for the feedback. Again, the point was to write this blog which is why the replies are lengthy. Wouldn’t put this effort just for the eyes of a stalker. Every single girl who uses social media encounters this kind of behaviour; one can’t always spare the time to respond in this way. But this one time, I made a small effort to set an example. I feel that such behaviour also extends beyond the virtual world, which is very stifling for women.

    Like I said, I did not recognise the person by his picture, and the added details of his institutions and workplaces made it clear that I had never met him. So I knew that he was making up the bit about knowing me. Yes, but, if I were mistaken, I think I would have apologised. I don’t enjoy being rude to people unnecessarily. :)Recommend

  • UK

    Its kind of sad how the male population is reacting to it. Why should WE be the ones with limited profile settings? Yes anyone can message me because I’m a frequent contributer to a group where people constantly buy and sell things and yes a lot of people inbox me if i want something. I can’t message each and everyone first. Moreover, if Facebook had a setting of stopping all random males from messaging me I would do that! But it does Not! And no there is no other place than Facebook for this. Stop trying to tell us what we should and shouldnt use. Twitter is completely different! Recommend

  • Faiza Rahman

    The point was to write this blog. Wouldn’t make all the effort just for the eyes of a random stranger.

    Yes, if I were mistaken, I would have probably apologised. But I was pretty sure I wasn’t, since I could see his photographs, the institutions he had attended, and his workplaces. Thanks for the feedback. :)Recommend

  • Awais

    Totally made up, more scripted than a WWE story line.Recommend

  • AR

    An open-source guide for all females over how to respond to badgering and worse by total strangers in cyber-space. Bound to work against all kinds of creeps. Also, just to state the obvious, the writer, and, for that matter, the ‘mister’ here, both have the right to be on social media, but they ALSO have the right to expect a modicum of privacy and decency from others. Put plain and simple, this guy had it coming, and I wish more women would react in the same way to the nutjobs out there in cyber-space (though, in an ideal world, they wouldn’t have had to). And this is coming from a guy, so take whatever you want to from this.Recommend

  • Abbas

    Oh My….You made a article out of this. Either you are super-irritated or showing off your writing skillls.Recommend

  • Ghostrider

    did you actually wrote all this or its your desire to grill a stalker in those words?Recommend

  • Kamran Shamshad

    Just block him/herRecommend

  • Raza

    But in case if you’re mistaken, apologizing after writing “that first reply” wont be a fair remedy :). well fair enough!! “Every single girl who uses social media encounters this kind of behaviour; one can’t always spare the time to respond in this way. But this one time, I made a small effort to set an example. I feel that such behaviour also extends beyond the virtual world, which is very stifling for women.” Job well done!Recommend

  • Rameez Ahmed

    Howcome your answers were so lengthy and his were so short ?Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    meh. Tbh all social media is a waste of time.
    I decided to go offline a year and 3 months ago. So I threw away my SIM, deleted all social media accounts except one on FB(yes I had 4 FB accounts with 4500 friends in each) , stopped online gaming and took a breath of fresh air. Now if someone wants to contact me they call on my landline or come visit me at my home, or I call them using my landline or I take them out to dinner. I use my remaining FB account only to log into disqus. I feel great and I am enjoying life.Recommend

  • Hunaid

    Now I can proudly say I’m better than most of the people here, in at least one regard, because I won’t ask you to ignore Mr. Incognito here and not give him a piece of your mind. While you must be feeling better, this fiasco definitely did not have a long term effect. He’ll be at it again.

    It is important that we inculcate more respect for women in the younger population and quit the ‘boys will be boys temperament’, that won’t get us anywhere as a society. The solution here lies in appealing to women, and not berating men, to raise better men. Men, who take pride in not objectifying women.Recommend

  • hasan

    wasted my time for this article.Recommend

  • Malik Abdul Rehman

    Didn’t reply. Messages like these do little to ripple the nonchalance of an average Pakistani girl. Abuses, offensive language, pictures of genitalia, most of us have faced it all. This kind of stalking is now something we have begun to deem as fairly harmless. I ignored this message, thinking that he will soon realise that he is mistaken in knowing me. Or that he’ll get tired and walk awayRecommend

  • Ahmed Omair

    i dont know why people here , taking it wrong or simply providing her a solution to block THE MISTER . Whatever she did was right , if she didn’t know the mister and the mister still forcing her to remember him , its simple he is flirting , no offensive but yes , thats the same old trick the man made . The bombardment of comment he got , i am sure next time he will atleast think for sometime to that again . I please girls don’t take it as some powerpuff girl save the day thing . What she did was right enough. Take it as a lesson , it might be fictional or real , but extract a god lesson from it .Recommend

  • Saby

    Even i couldn’t read after the first convo… I NEVER get such annoying things on my fb… Because i have enabled in my fb settings that only friends of friends can message me. They do stalk but cant get their messages delivered to me. Simple.. You were right you arent so good with fb settings etc :)Recommend

  • AK

    just turn off of your message box.. as easy as pie :|Recommend

  • Faiza Rahman

    Because he wasn’t writing a blog. I was.Recommend

  • نائلہ

    I need to get rid of my laptop. Its the root of literally HALF my problems. -.-Recommend

  • Sol Invictus

    Social media is waste of time so you find pleasure in cocooning. Well done mate !Recommend

  • UltimateTruthSeeker222

    that’s one way to take it out on a simple lonely likely depressed dude, , you know you could’ve just blocked him first insteadRecommend

  • UltimateTruthSeeker222

    And what’s really shameful and unacceptable is that lead that innocent guy on just to write a crappy blog on a websiteRecommend

  • Amna

    Very well written and eloquent article Faiza. That creep deserved all that he got and more. And in NO way was it over the top, or an over reaction! Anyone saying so otherwise, missed the entire point of the article. Women/ females are subjected to such badgering constantly on the internet; and while blocking someone is the easy way out, sometimes you just cannot take it anymore!
    Unfortunately, I don’t think that he got any of it, or even have learnt from it. His ego got in the way!
    But hopefully the last bit will encourage more people to report such behaviour to the right authorities and maybe, just maybe it will sink in, that such behaviour is unacceptable!!Recommend

  • bob

    And my response to Amir Liaqat is to ban his useless TV shows.Recommend

  • Junaid

    true, most stories are made up hereRecommend

  • Junaid

    How farigh you both were, in fact you were more that wrote it all with loads of masalaRecommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    cocooning is the habit of individuals who go out less and less. They start to stay at home and instead of interacting with people in real life they use social media. So “cocooning” is not the relevant term here.
    (I love it when wikipedia, google and freeonlinedictionary make me look so smart)Recommend

  • Thomas Aquinas

    There is a nice book by the name of “The Woman Racket” by Steve Moxon. Kindly get a hold of it. Also, kindly stop using the term “Male Chauvinism”, when you don’t know what it really means. Thank God, that you live in a society where Men suffer and care for their Women, except for certain psychos, who act otherwise. (If you had the misfortune with being one of them, I feel sorry for you). I can readily quote plenty of sadistic, narcisstic, self-obsessed, ‘despo’ female examples, but I just find it too crude to be explicit about it, hoping that soon they will reform themselves, or life will show them a way. In fact I am reminded of a very relevant segment of a letter by Florence Nightingale (the woman, who gave us Nursehood) written to her friend, Madame Mohl, in the December of 1861, pertaining to the relative merits of male/female chauvinism. Its available on Wikiquote.org. Look it up. My earlier comment regarding Rehman falling from grace, was precisely based on these observations, as well as some earlier ones. For instance in some earlier article, she unconditionally equated our society with “Rape Culture” – (Madame, do you even know what a “Rape Culture” is?) – She has, therefore, in the habit of psuedo-liberals of Pakistan, lent too much value to chance encounters, whose validity cannot be independently verified, and the kind of deterrence she has opted for them, is (given the event in question is real and not fictive or invented) ineffective. She has only wasted her words.

    And no Ruskhsar, she did not step on anybody’s ego. Recommend

  • Adil Afridi

    Some people are calling these guys perverts. Really? Why?

    Cuz they seem to be socially disabled and don’t know what they want or what to do?

    They merely seem to be helpless men. A product of our society and it’s obsession with ‘pretty’ people. No one is aware of fun conversation. I doubt if sex is even in their minds. They think they want ‘love’ from a beautiful girl thanks to crores of rupees spent on unintended propaganda. They think what they need in their life is a ‘beautiful’(with the standards set by society) wife. They don’t know what friendship is. Don’t know what dating is. Don’t know how social interactions are to be done. Think beautiful women are from another planet, a commodity to own, not another human.

    Unfortunately limited people. ‘Pervert’ is not a term that describes this problem with our society.

    The ridicule of these people and further exclusion merely aggravates the problem. I m sure some significant chunk of rapists are born from unkind words, lack of communication from reasonable people who can teach them things which creates some social exclusion, damage to self respect and ultimately a need to assert dominance and prove to themselves that they are ‘men’.

    Damage their vulnerability and they shield themselves with this pseudo masculinity and women hate. And bam: you have a new rapist in town.

    Much laughter here. From normal guys. And women who were victims to this madness. Victims of inconvenience and harassment.

    You know who are the real victims in this sad sad story. These men. And other women who will fall victim to them. Eventually. I doubt anyone among you all content people thought about these helpless guys. ‘Those perverts’. Dehumanized. They are just a joke. The problem is not even of mere ignorance. It’s a product of class system, capitalist agendas, selling of dehumanized content and No one blinks.

    Seeing apathy of ‘normal’ men and women I wish i could turn myself Asexual.

    We manufacture our own damaged people.Recommend