Jan 3, 2012

Never Talk to Strangers

Never Talk to Strangers
Article first published as Never Talk to Strangers on Technorati.

Having a relationship on the internet is something trendy nowadays, especially young people. In this cyber world they can interact with other netters without disclosing their true identity. That’s perhaps, the positive point of such a relationship. However, there’s also a negative side of it. Since no true identity is known, it is possible for anyone to offend or harass others via the internet. 

Here are some tips that might help you to kick off any irresponsible cybermate :

Ignore the person totally. In most cases the sad “predator” will wander off and look for someone else. “Ignore” them if you have that facility (an “ignore” command in your chat program), and make everything the harasser says become invisible. Freeze them right out! Don’t send rude messages back tou your abuser unless you are ready for a flame war! Remember, they want your attention. Don’t give it to them! In live chat the ignore button is your best friend.

Change rooms or channels. This is like changing compartments on a train if there someone in your compartment harassing you. Of course if you are in your favorite chat room, this is not a very good option.
If the harasser follows you - and in live chat you can often be located again if you stay on the same system – you can always change to a different chat network. There are lots of different chat networks around the world to choose from. Most of harassers will then forget you and go find someone lese to harass.

Ask them politely to leave you alone. Consider the difference between telling them privately and publicly. For example if you get an obscene private message while on a channel, don’t respond to it privately. Respond to the message publicly so that you can draw the attention of other netters. However, if you humiliate someone in public, he or she is more likely to take revenge on you. That’s the consequence you have to take. The choice is yours.

Give a warning. “Please leave me alone or I will report you to the chat administration for harassment.” But keep calm, cool and professional. Remember you can report a harasser to the administrators of the chat service you are using.

Log off from service. Come back online 30 minutes later.

Change your online nickname. Then it will be harder for the harasser to find you.
Learn how to be a channel (room) operator/supervisor yourself. In IRC you can set up and “Op” your own channel and that gives you the power to both kick abusers off your channel and also to ban them from ever being able to come back again. Alternatively, aks a chat room supervisor to ban that person for you.
In serious cases where you believe you are in physical danger, (e.g. if your harasser gets hold of your home telephone number or your home address, or if any serious threats are made against you), and you are under 18, tell your parents about it. This could be a matter for the police. Remember, if you are harassed, it’s not your fault.

Don’t keep your harassment a secret. Harassers get their power from fact that many harassment victims are too embarrassed or ashamed to make the matter public. Tell your friends online about the person who abusing you. And don’t be ashamed to be angry! You can also tell a friend you trust, your parents or other family members.

Remember, it is your decision as to when someone is going too far. If you threatened, then you are threatened. Believe in your feelings. Don’t do anything you don’t want. You are in control here! 

Whatever happens, don’t panic. No one can physically hurt you through your computer. You are safe right where you are. Whatever is happening may be stressing you out, but the “off” button is always right there in front of you. Don’t be afraid to use. It can be your most powerful weapon. Troublemakers are a lame and sad minority. Don’t let them spoil your fun!
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