5 Phrases Women Don't Want to Hear on Social Media

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It’s rude and nauseating but somehow “normal.” On sites like Quora, women state that they receive “creepy” direct messages (DMs) daily, weekly, “far too often,” or “more often than people want to believe.”

Every woman has a collection of unsolicited private messages. And while we’re tempted to believe only men force themselves in our DMs, women, too, tend to cross the line. If you react, you’re shamed. If you don’t, you risk being threatened or called names.

Between folks looking for “dirty talks,” scammers, sellers, and people who shame us in private messages for what we choose to share online, our anxiety levels can quickly go through the roof. It’s an extra layer of pressure we could get rid of if everyone thought twice before hitting the send button.

If you want to connect or initiate one-on-one communication with women on social media, here are some words you want to avoid.

“Do you have a phone number?”

Or, the local version, “Can we connect on WhatsApp?” You don’t know me, we have no common interests, and most probably we’ll never meet. If you want to talk business, you can start that conversation differently. Why do you need my phone number?

“You are pretty/beautiful/super/sweet/gorgeous.”

It might be appropriate to start conversations this way on dating apps, but it’s not how you get in touch with women on LinkedIn or Instagram. Many of us use these platforms for keeping in touch with friends or doing business. If we wanted that kind of attention, we would have a presence on different platforms.  

“A lady doesn’t speak/write like you do.”

This isn’t from my collection, but I know a few women who get this message regularly (mostly from other women). Here’s the thing: No woman likes unsolicited advice about how she can be “more woman” by not speaking about certain topics online. Some are okay with sweeping things under the carpet, others aren’t. It’s not our job to shame women for how they choose to express their ideas.

Rape threats and insults.

No one wants to talk about them. As a woman, you just delete the message in seconds and block the sender without blinking. But the feeling of nausea and the anxiety that comes with these words last for more than those three seconds. What makes me angry is that you can’t even complain, because you risk multiple waves of hate by doing it.  

Pornographic pictures and whatever words come with them.

It’s another thing we can't talk about, even if we deal with it since we’re teenagers — girls are three times more likely to be cyberbullied than boys. It’s become the norm. For many of us, it’s a battle we can’t win because we don’t even start it. And, somehow, we become embarrassed every time it happens!

I wrote this article several times — write, delete, write, delete. Am I exaggerating? Am I fighting something that isn’t there? Am I crying for attention, instead of accepting and ignoring something I can’t change?

The internet tells me to ignore. Overall, most women teach other women not to react, while online violence against women is growing worldwide. So, I delete, block, ignore. But I can’t forget, and every time I have a new message request, a part of me is anxious and doesn’t feel like opening what can be a Pandora’s box. I blame myself for the inappropriate messages and involuntarily ask myself whether something in my behavior triggered the sender. Women shouldn’t become targets just because they choose to share photos or express themselves online.


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