I am a 27-year-old single woman. Last year, I received a Facebook friend request from a 9th-grader from my church, Jackie. I didn’t know her very well but figured I was Facebook friends with lots of the other teens from the church, so, sure, I would accept her friend request. A day later she sent me a message saying “Hiiiiiii! You’re gorgeous!” I replied, “Well, thank you! Same to you!!” and then left my Facebook. Another day later, she messaged again just to chat about….well, nothing in particular. Our conversation consisted of me asking her questions such as, “What are you up to now that it’s summer?” her replying “Oh, I’m super busy,” but refusing to tell me anything specific. Okay, well, she’s 14, grace on her.
Well, the catch was, I discovered EVERY time I signed into Facebook or Skype (even if it was multiple times a day) she would want to talk for hours about nothing, and would get upset when I tried to politely end the conversation. I gradually stopped responding to her messages because I simply don’t have time to sit at my computer and chat for hours, especially with someone who I see face-to-face every week at church! The funny thing was, if I tried to talk to her at church she would avoid me- the other 9th-grade girls would greet me and chat with me, and she would bolt off and hide. One day when she messaged me I replied asking, “Can I take you out for coffee after school on Friday? I’ll ask your mom if it’s okay, but I’m sure she’ll say yes.” All of a sudden, Jackie claimed to be “superbusy” (superbusy doing what?? I know she isn’t in any clubs or sports…and if she’s so busy, how does she have all this time to sit around on Facebook and Skype?) and said she wouldn’t have time.
However, she continued to bombard me online- I left my computer on and unattended for several minutes and came back to find five or six missed Skype calls from her (Skype?? When we live 15 minutes apart??) and a string of messages saying, “Come talk to me!” “Come on, where are you???” “Don’t do this to me!!” “Why do you hate me? If you liked me you would talk to me!!” At this point, I sent her a gentle message telling her that I simply couldn’t sit at my computer all day and talk to her or anyone else- she was on vacation from school, but I was working and preparing to move overseas. I told her if she wanted to write me an actual letter on Facebook I would happily read it and respond as soon as possible, but that the wording she had just used in her previous messages was accusatory and manipulative. I explained that if she wanted to hang out (I assumed she was looking for a mentoring-relationship from me) face-to-face I would gladly do so, but there was no need to be constantly Facebooking or Skyping when we lived in the same town. She replied that she understood and would try to change her ways- but the bombarding messages continued.
I need to explain at this point that I had plans to go abroad for a year and do missionary work, and her favorite thing to message me about was how “hard” it would be for her when I left. For one, she barely knew me and two, it was hard enough for me to leave my home for a year; I didn’t need to be guilted about it from someone I barely knew. The hardest part before my departure was waiting on my visa, not knowing whether it would be approved, and other church friends would leave messages on my Facebook wall saying, “Praying for patience for you, hope your visa comes in the mail today!” and Jackie would post comments below them saying, “I hope it NEVER comes!!” When my visa finally came she dodged saying goodbye to me my last Sunday at church, but as soon as I was in my host country and had my computer set up, the constant messages continued. Sometimes I would be up until midnight planning for work the next day, and if I forgot to sign out of Skype she would start calling me and get upset when I didn’t answer, even if I messaged her explaining, “It’s midnight here and I’m trying to get to bed; plus my host family is asleep and I’ll wake them up if I start talking.” When my year was up, I had one week at home before moving to another state to begin post-graduate studies. I went to my church on Sunday, of course, and Jackie’s mother saw me and said, “The whole way to church she was talking about how she can’t wait to see you-” but as she was talking Jackie bolted past without acknowledging me. I sent her a message asking if I could take her out to lunch (again, I could ask her mom if it was okay) and she said she was free Tuesday. I had a LOT of people to see and things to get done during my week at home, but I cleared Tuesday afternoon, only to have her message me on Monday night saying her “allergies were superbad” and she couldn’t make it (She doesn’t have life-threatening allergies, just regular sneezing and blowing your nose- I have the same issues but I would never use it as an excuse not to see someone!) Well, glad I kept that time slot free for nothing. Then, the next day, she messages me saying, “I’ve had a really hard day. Can we Skype?” I ignored the message entirely at this point. No, I’m not going to sit around and talk to you online for hours when you refuse to talk to me face-to-face just so you can tell your friends you spent all day Skyping with a 27-year-old!
I’m not sure how to handle this at this point. I know she’s 15, and I don’t know what it’s like to have social media at your fingertips at such a young age. Cell phones were still for emergencies only when I was 15!. But she won’t take my suggestions and I don’t know how to go to her parents with this without sounding like I’m saying, “Tell your kid to stop being so annoying!!” I’m tempted to block her on Facebook and Skype, but I’m not sure what will go down when she finds out I’m still friends with her more internetiquette-trained peers- I’m sure being blocked is a serious slap in the face for a 15-year-old. Is this the norm, now- to want to talk ALL the time online but NEVER face-to-face??? 0612-13
No, this is not normal behavior. This is beyond your sphere of responsibility to deal with and you need to inform the girl’s parents of the odd behavior. It’s almost as if you are an imaginary friend for her. You are fun to play with online but meeting face-to-face in reality is too much. It is time to tell her parents so they can address the issues.