Rethinking My Approach

Lately I've been reading a tumblr called Straight White Boy Texting.  This tumblr consists mostly of screen captures of conversations had between men and women where the men say things that are creepy, sexually aggressive, or otherwise just plain wrong.  Reading through these messages has caused me to rethink the way that I talk to people on the internet, most especially the way I talk to women.  Yesterday I came across something that made me rethink my communications even further.

The Benevolent Stalker

In this post on his personal blog, Richard Brittain, an English quiz show champion, writes about how he once stalked a woman.  He writes about how he pursued her, was rebuffed by her, and kept on pursuing her in ways that some people are calling disturbing.  What struck me about this post is that Richard appears to be in no way coerced into writing this post.  Richard appears to be writing honestly in his own words, and in his honesty he is admitting to doing things that are in no way socially acceptable.  Take for instance this passage:

I wrote love letters to her. I still had her address from the forms that she filled out for University Challenge. I felt a bit guilty using that information, but I wasn’t turning up at her door or anything. I sent a few love letters through the post, rose-themed cards containing poetry and drawings. I also left messages on her phone.

He wrote that.  Richard wrote that himself.  In his post Richard admits to stalking this woman, and also appears to be unappologetic about doing so, which is seen in this passage:

It seems that modern society drools over depictions of this intense, obsessional love, but only when it is mutual. When it comes from just one side, it is suddenly deemed a terrible thing.
When I was listening to The Beatles, I realised that a lot of their early music suited my mood. Much of it is about being utterly obsessed with a particular woman:
“I’ll get you, I’ll get you in the end,
Yes I will, I’ll get you in the end,
Oh yeah, oh yeah,
Well, there’s gonna be a time,
When I’m gonna change your mind,
So you might as well resign yourself to me,
Oh yeah.”
Are the Beatles creepy stalkers? Of course not. How about Sting?
“Every breath you take,
Every move you make,
Every bond you break,
Every step you take,
I’ll be watching you.”
These songs are about obsessional love, which is both natural and beautiful. Benevolent stalking is different to malevolent stalking. The latter is intended to cause harm or induce fear, but the former is purely an expression of affection.
Richard doesn't seem to understand that what he did is wrong, and is even constructing arguments trying to excuse his behavior.  This is what is making me rethink the way that I communicate with people.  Perhaps I am doing something that is egregiously wrong but lack the perspective on myself to recognize it.  There's nothing in particular that stands out to me but something might stand out to someone else.  I want to be a better person but have only tried, up to this point, through what I believe to be thorough and honest introspection.  Another person's perspective may be necessary to ensure that I am not doing something in my personal conduct that is, in the starkest context of the term, wrong.

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