Online safety: How do you know when people are real?

When do readers cross the line when interacting with authors? As any female author of erotic and kink fiction can attest, the lines between fantasy and reality often become blurred when readers interact with authors. Inappropriate photos, nudity, off-color humor, clinginess, and tone-deafness to social cues make many authors wary of interacting with people online. Authors of naughty fiction cook meals for their children, run errands, mend buttons, and shop at home improvement stores just like anyone else. This may come as a shock, but I don’t fall over in glee when I receive unsolicited photos of naked genitals. *shock* I’m not flattered or turned on by instant messages laced with chat speak, misspellings, and crude suggestions.

Because I write spanking and discipline, too often readers can confuse my characters with me. I’m not secretly hoping to find a girl to discipline, and I don’t long for a chance to scold every person who giggles and flirts my way. I write discipline, my private life is no one’s business, and (as anyone would know who has read any of my books), I consider disciplinary/erotic spanking the height of intimacy and trust. If I have just met you, I will not receive sexual pleasure if you beg me to spank you. (Ana said sexual pleasure! Yes, I know.) I will joke about it with friends, but friends include only those who know to stop before a joke goes too far.

Online privacy is a hot-button topic, given many issues that have come up recently. A few months ago, I posted an explanation why posting photos without permission is a serious no-no. I’ll assume that we’ve all had the online safety talk, so I won’t go into the typical warnings to be careful of your phone number, home address, or identifying information.

Simply put, let me say this: You do not owe anyone your trust. Block, unfollow, unfriend, mute, and all of those social media options are your friend. No one has any right to be in your life, let alone a stranger on the internet. You don’t owe anyone explanations of why you cease contact, either. When the red flags go up in the back of your mind, listen to them. Too often, especially as women, we are manipulated by plaintive attempts to tug at our sympathy. “But I didn’t ‘know’ any better!” “Why won’t you at least talk to me?” “But I gave you my phone number!” But, but, but…No. Never. As recent events in blogland have richly demonstrated, we have no proof that people are who they say they are. In my case, I will give people the benefit of the doubt but err on the side of caution. No one “deserves” to have any information about you (unless, for example, someone is suspected of fraud or deliberate harm of another). Sockpuppets, or people creating extra accounts to vouch for or interact with others, are a serious problem online. Don’t accept another person’s word that someone is trustworthy. You are the one who will get hurt if it is not true, and people act differently in different contexts.

Bottom line: Please be careful. I want you safe and sound so you can buy all of my books. 😀

 

 

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21 thoughts on “Online safety: How do you know when people are real?

  1. hollawrites says:

    Good post, Ana! I can’t help but roll my eyes when someone asks if I do all the things I write about in my spanking books. Would they ask a Sci Fi writer if they’ve lived in another world? I’ve been fortunate so far that no one has sent me pictures of naked genitals. I’m afraid I would just laugh out loud and delete.

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  2. Clara Baker says:

    This is great advice Ana. It is hard, though. There is the struggle of wanting to have friends or at least acquaintances in the community who understand the life you choose to live. At the same time we have just witnessed how trust can be abused in such a hurtful way.

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      That’s how people get hurt, by wanting to reach out. There are many wonderful people and a few bad. Some of the bad are lonely/unhappy/emotionally unstable, and a few are downright dangerous. It only takes one dangerous person to wreak havoc on an entire community. Look at your latest shooting spree story for an example. We don’t have to be paranoid chickens, but we also have to be smart about protecting ourselves. That might mean, unfortunately, that we don’t get to know what might be a great friend. 😦 It’s sad but unfortunate.

      Thank you, Clara. 🙂

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  3. Renee says:

    Ana, ok so you got me going this morning and you know I don’t do that too often. Goodness naked pictures of someone’s junk… that’s just gross. Have they never heard of imagination and anticipation? Really people do not think through what they are doing. And doing everything you write about … Have they never heard about the shoemaker’s family? They don’t have shoes. Just saying… 😀 Why would people who read kink think that the writers are any different than themselves? I bet every one who read books about kink; spanking and sex don’t and wouldn’t want to do everything that is in their reading material. Should the crime writer commit murder in order to write good books? I am just very grateful for all the writers who can tell a story that provides a happy spot for the reader to go for a little while. Reading a good story opens doors, sparks ideas, and provides enjoyment. So thank you writers of all genres. *steps down off of soapbox*

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Softspoken Renee indeed does not get going often. And yes! Ew is all I can say, and you know that *I* don’t say things like that often.

      LOL about the shoemaker’s family. Poor naughty authors’ families. LOL.

      Thank YOU, Renee, for being a wonderful reader and supporter. We couldn’t do it without you. 🙂

      Like

  4. Ami says:

    Truly this is excellent advice. The internet is a scary place. Especially when a picture I happily took with my own little digital camera ended up on Google Images. I am still wondering how that could happen.

    But I suppose you could always take it to extremes and say that even if you meet up with someone in the flesh, you still can’t know if what they say is true or not. After all, when I meet up with Jan, we don’t brag about the red marks on our bottoms. LOL! So, what I am saying is that although we need to be scrupulously careful with strangers, as those strangers become friends, we need to make decisions on privacy based on gut feeling and integrity.

    I have made some, who I regard as, wonderful friends, on here. I couldn’t imagine being without them. But if one of them ever happened to be a fake, I would be devastated. So all I can do is hope my gut instinct was right, and that they have the same integrity as I have.

    Many hugs
    Ami

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      I have talked about internet safety since you and I first met. 🙂

      And yes, of course people can still deceive in person (and they do), but they have to go to greater lengths to do so. Also, decisions we make to trust people can affect others. If someone I respect trusts someone else, that influences my decision. That said, I think more of us need to step back and make our own decisions instead of following what’s popular.

      Integrity is a sadly rare but wonderful thing.

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  5. catrouble says:

    Well dang Ana…I am totally shocked that you don’t enjoy unsolicited pics of strangers genitals! Oh and you don’t want to scold and spank every man or woman who flirts with you? *sigh*

    Seriously my friend…this is an excellent post with very wise information. Thank you for sharing.

    Hugs and Blessings…
    Cat

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  6. SH says:

    Very timely post Ana, considering all of the drama that happened in blog land this past week, and very, very good advice for everyone 🙂 It can be quite scary when you really think about it. Well, I am off to safely read another book and am looking forward to your upcoming releases! 🙂

    Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      There’s been enough drama without me adding to it, but it does bring up basic safety considerations for everyone. It can be hard to be the stick-in-the-mud who won’t go along with what “everyone” does (sharing real names, phone numbers, addresses, photos, social media IDs, etc.), but no one has the right to pressure for that information, ever. I hope that more people will realize that from now on.

      Sci Spanks the anthology should be ready for distribution to VIPs tonight! 😀 You will get your copy as soon as it’s ready.

      Like

  7. annapurna1951 says:

    Thank you for a very useful and insightful post, one I should have read before getting involved with Twitter.

    While I have not yet received personal photos of genitalia, I have been propositioned to engage in cybersex at least six times over as many weeks. These advances don’t have quite the same impact as proclamations of love coming from both men and women who have never met me. My openness and soft-heartedness maybe to blame I think.

    These are normal people. The evil ones are easier for me to spot.

    I mustn’t let Twitter take over my life. I’ll just repeat that several hundred times more.

    Anyway, I apologize if I have acted in a clinging way or failed to miss social cues. If I have, I’ll just blame my interpersonal lapses on dyslexia or ADD.

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Hey Anna! I wondered where you had gone. 🙂 Nice to see you again! And only once a week? Your followers must be slacking. And yes, the people who seem to be normal are the most dangerous. We know to stay away from the ones who appear ill-intentioned.

      Be good, behave, and wait for your next spanking. Hehe. Hugs.

      Like

  8. Irishey says:

    Unsolicited Genitals. Sounds like that should be a chapter in a kink book – not one of yours, of course. 😉

    Unfortunately, I have met far, far more real monsters in real life than I have online – too many to assign a number. Or, perhaps that is fortunate, given that I almost always know who the monsters are irl. I think “monster” may be a strong word for the ones I know and suspect in blogland, and even those seem to have some goodness, decency or other redeeming qualities that temper their deception or vitriole. Everyone else who is blogging or commenting seems to be sincere in who/how they claim to be, and I believe and befriend them (with reasonable caution) until I have reason to mistrust. Having said that, none of us knows how many monsters are lurking in our blogs’ shadows, adding up the snippets we share in hopes of identifying their next victim.

    I do not know where C falls in this spectrum, but I do know the hurt she caused was monstrous, and unnecessary. Bah. I wish I could wave a magic wand and erase that unreality. If she merely is ill and misguided, used bad judgment, and had no other motive than to fit in and make friends, I pray she will be okay as she comes to terms with how much pain she caused her friends and herself. If there was anything more to this, something more nefarious, well… I’ll just say I am glad she only hurt people’s feelings.

    Having trust be violated, having someone bully or worm themselves into our private lives, is a scary thing for anyone to have endured. I think most of us have experienced this to varying degrees.

    Thank you for writing this post. These things need to be said. (Especially the part about not sending unsolicited photos of body parts. Sheesh. I want none of that, either.)

    Hugs to you, my friend.

    Like

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