I’ve noticed an uptick recently in the number of new followers on Flickr I have to immediately block, and I’m wondering what’s up with it. In the past week or so it seems I’ve had to block at least one new follower a day; while blocking people is a fairly regular occurrence for me it certainly isn’t a daily thing, so I’m wondering what photo it is that’s drawing all the attention, and why. I rarely ever look at my Flickr stats and am too lazy to slog through all of that info to try and draw any real conclusion, so I’ll just offer my thoughts on the subject here without any hard data to back myself up. Feel free to come along as I do so.
In case you’re wondering, I block people from having access to my photos for a few different reasons. The first reason would be that the follower has no photostream. Sorry folks, but in my world you’ve got to pay to play – if you ain’t sharing anything, I ain’t letting you follow me. Look at it this way: I’m putting myself out there on the internet to be judged by the world at large, and I want to interact with people who are doing the same. Otherwise, you’re getting all the benefit of my hard work without putting any work out yourself, which doesn’t work for me. Moving on. Another reason I will block a follower is if the photos on their photostream are non-artistic nudes or overly sexual pictures with no artistic value (we all know the difference). Reason #3 is if their favorites are chock full of non-artistic nudity and sexuality. I have no desire for a portrait of me taken to show off my 2.5 hours of meticulous makeup application and set construction to be sandwiched between cheap cell phone camera shots of naked chicks squatting in dirty bathtubs simply because I’m female and so are they – I know, call me crazy.
So the recent spate of followers I’ve had to block have fallen into at least one of the above three categories, with some being in more than one. But today’s block was rather interesting in that he took it a step further (all of the people I’ve had to block, by the way, have been male) and sent me an email. And oh, what an email it was:
Now, because I am a nice person, I cropped the guy’s Flickr name out of that screenshot. I’ve already blocked him, so the comments he went around randomly posting on several of my photos have disappeared, unfortunately, or I would have screencapped them as well. Most of them went something like this:
That was, in fact, one of the actual comments; I think you can imagine what the others were like based on this information. As you can also imagine, I have some thoughts about online behavior like this. Thought #1 is that it’s offensive, and a complete misinterpretation of my photographs to react this way. But hey – I do get it. I know what a lot of men get up to online, and I know that somehow they manage to find women (or men pretending to be women) to accommodate and even encourage this behavior. What I don’t get is why anyone would look at MY photos in particular and think I would be enthusiastic about receiving such attention. There is a total lack of ducklipped selfies on my stream, as well as cleavage shots or other genitalia, and in general, my poses are not suggestive. I get that the mere fact I am female and online means, to some men, that I’m being suggestive, but the truth is I am not open to sexual banter simply by nature of my existence. And it seems to me there are plenty of women on Flickr (as it is a completely self-regulated site, which I like) willing to get so upclose and personal with their cell phone cameras I want to ask them Do you intend to talk into that phone later?, so you would think men wouldn’t have to go trolling for naughty talk with a middle-aged chick who wears wigs and jumps up and down. Perhaps this is further evidence of our society’s lack of critical thinking skills – it would seem any man should be able to skim my stream and draw a few logical conclusions about why I am on Flickr without me having to spell it out for them, but apparently not.
In fact, I do have it spelled out for them, on my profile page, where I state the three reasons people will automatically get blocked, but they don’t bother to read that information at all. So, totally willing to hit the ‘follow’ button and type up a few suggestive comments, yes, but willing to click the profile button and actually read a few sentences’ worth of information about the sexual object in question? NNNNNOPE.
Now, before I get inundated with emails from my male Flickr friends who comment, and compliment, on my photos, please don’t think I am talking to you. I am not talking about clever things men say that might make note of the fact that I am attractive, or even sexy; if I am wearing a purple wig, for example, and a man says something like “Purple Passion!” in response, that is perfectly fine (but, it helps if I already know you). Now, if a man said “Purple Penis-Eater,” instead, well then, we’d have a problem. Cute alliteration and a song reference to do not make up for a dick comment, sorry. So – if you have been commenting on my photos for some time and I’ve not blocked you or told you to knock it off, then trust me, you are fine.
But as far as these sexual attempts at commenting go, I just have to say, really – COME ON. I can’t help but laugh at how terrible most of it is. Are there actually women out there who are turned on by the fact that a man hit the M key seventeen times? Dudes, that’s not a compliment, it’s a consonant, and it just isn’t titillating. Although I guess I see the appeal of not being required to put out any greater level of effort to respond – I could have just said “rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr you’re a tiger,” hit send, and then…I don’t know really. Written a blog post about my awesome online sexual Flickr experience, I guess? It just doesn’t get me hot and bothered, in spite of the follower calling me “hot.” Although I was, in fact, bothered, so he accomplished part of his goal at least.