Editor’s Note: This post was written by Tammy Dykstra, one of this semester’s Boundless interns.
I talked on a podcast a couple months ago about the frustration I have with the seemingly growing relationship between women and insecurity. Along those same lines, I have been noticing the same troubling trend in men. However, this is different. Or is it?
Let me tell this story to illustrate my point.
There was this guy. We apparently both attended the same weeknight gathering for college-age young adults. I went to be with my friends, to hear some good teaching, to spend time worshipping with people in my stage of life, to meet people.
And like I said, there was this guy.
I didn’t know him…until late one Saturday night. I got a chat request on AIM. First off, he introduced himself…ish. He told me that he found me on MySpace and that he thought I attended the same college group that he did, and then proceeded to ask me questions that felt very interview-esque.
How old are you? Do you sing? What is your family like? What are your hobbies? I kept it a short conversation and also tried not to allow myself to read into it at the time, so I wrote that off as an interaction with a man who was quite possibly just a little socially awkward, but potentially someone who would be a friend in the near future.
Then, that next week I expected him to introduce himself. A bunch of us played volleyball in the gym after worship and teaching and — nothing. I figured he just didn’t make it that week.
But then I got home. I got on AIM, as I did often when I was 19 (I guess I needed a job), and he sends me a chat. And it said — no joke — “Hey, I saw you tonight.”
“You didn’t say ‘hi,’” was my response, thinking he was working at the counter or had to take off soon after we finished with worship.
“I know,” he answered. “I’m kinda shy, but I was there most of the night.”
It took me a minute to reply because I was a bit freaked out.
I wrote, “Dude, you’re gonna have to get over that. I’m not about just being MySpace friends when we are at the same place one night every week. You have to say ‘hi’.”
I placed this responsibility on him because he clearly knew who I was, but I had yet to recognize him. His profile pictures were all obscure: a guitar, a photobooth sketch of his face, a beachscape, etc.
And the next week, I gave him a chance again to say hello. He didn’t. And needless to say I quit responding to his chats from that point on.
I am in no way implying that that there is value in being insensitive to shyness. I have been and at times still can be a bit shy. However, I don’t find this to be a legitimate excuse for impersonal friendships. This wasn’t God’s design for community and it surely wasn’t His design for relationships.
This isn’t to say that this guy is in the majority; I doubt he is. But help me understand, why does this kind of thing happen? How can we help brothers and sisters who engage in this socially accepted form of stalking? What needs to change?