Predators, enemies and digital stalkers: four simple rules to handle them

  1. Predators: they can be occupational delinquents (people whose income depends on inflicting harm on other people, with higher or lower levels of violence) or psychopaths (people who seek satisfaction through the control over other people, which can be obtained from simple harassment up to signature murder). GENERAL RULES: a. Limit your exposure (don’t overpost, control self-disclosure). Like everybody else, predators make decisions based on information. If you need to expose yourself for professional purposes, do it deliberately and in a controlled manner; b. Some are hard to spot, others aren’t. Strangers are strangers, digital “friends” are not friends. Control your interactivity. Keep track of what is generating satisfaction in other people’s interaction with you – there is always a reason, or many reasons; c. If you see any signs of predatory behavior, immediately stop interacting. The best tool is blocking. This does not prevent the predator from stalking you, but you will clearly signal your rejection and awareness and you will become a harder prey to catch. If he is not a stalker, he will move on to an easier prey; d. Do not open attachments from strangers, never agree to meet anyone in places that are not open and public, do not feed unproductive digital discussions or controversies.
  2. Enemies: enemies are people who assume – justifiably or not (it doesn’t matter) – that you have harmed them. Depending on the person’s character and the nature of the (real or fictional) inflicted harm, the enemy will try to harm you back. Harm may go from simple annoying gossip to murder. Between one and the other, there are infinite possibilities. GENERAL RULES: a. understand that having enemies is inevitable for any minimally successful professional; b. understand that the more visible you are, the higher the number of people that will feel harmed by you. The proportion of irrationally resentful people is positively correlated to your level of visibility; c. DO NOT PLAY WITH THEM, meaning: interact the least you can. Don’t fall in their provocative traps. Have reliable people in whose rationality you may trust. They will help you evaluate the actual risk in your enemy’s actions (it is inevitable that you become relatively paranoid after a certain frequency of attacks); d. Have lawyers you can call in case you need.
  3. Digital stalkers: they are identical to presencial stalkers, with the added risk that they can stalk you much more silently. These are people that, for reasons you will never understand, need to be close to you. They are exaggerated admirer, people who need to copy you or people who crave your attention. They frequently have the fantasy of being you. Others fantasize of OWNING you. GENERAL RULES: a. if you identify a stalker, KEEP AWAY and cut all your contact IMMEDIATELY. The worst danger is the fact that many people hesitate on doing these because they feel flattered by the stalker, confusing them with real admirers. Other times, out of naivety, you may think the stalkers truly needs your help and, worse, that you can help them. How to know a staker from a person in need? Simple: there is no end to what the stalker needs; b. make it crystal clear that you are not his “friend”. You have friendly interaction with a lot of people, but draw a clear red line between those that may and those that may not share your intimacy; c. DON’T PLAY WITH THEM – in this case, never. If the stalker becomes dangerous, go to the police, get a lawyer, take legal action; d. in social media, BLOCK THEM IMMEDIATELY.

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