Originally composed for Fetlife.
Author’s Note: This post was written with the assumption that people do want to receive friendly and respectful messages from people and may not be applicable to everyone.
I recently talked with a friend that was thinking about redoing their Fetlife profile. Their old profile began with a giant over-sized bold red statement about who should not message her. Fetlife or kinky dating profiles is something I have been theorizing about for a very long time and our conversation was able to reaffirm some things that I already knew but it also brought up some ideas that I hadn’t considered until now.
Just as a point of reference, I do greatly empathize with the plight of those who are on the receiving end of wave after wave of crappy and disrespectful messages. I understand h ow it can wear you down, sour you on people as a whole, and lead to a defensive approach to this. Back in the collarme days, I used to screen my partner’s inbox after she received some really awful and upsetting messages for several consecutive days. It was a shit show. She was a Domme. Her average inbox load was 200 messages a day. On average, 175 of them contained dick pics and usually some amazingly interesting message, like, “hey.” About 5 of them were toxic and hostile and involved threats of rape, violence, murder, outing, and the like. About 5 of them were insults directed at her attacking her looks, weight, or body. About 10 of them were intricate messages from thirsty guys telling her how she should fetish them. About 5 of them were thoughtfully written messages from people who sounded like actual people. I would delete the 195 crappy messages and leave the 5 good ones in her box.
If you do the math, 175 unsolicited dick pics a day is 63,875 dick pics a year. If you were there for 5 years, that’s 319,375 dick pics. That’s a whole lotta dick that you didn’t ask for. I can completely understand anyone experiencing that volume of garbage to begin to believe that guys just think with and about their dicks.
I know those kinds of volumes are far less common on Fetlife, mostly because it’s harder to find people here than it was there. People also can’t embed photos in their messages. In some ways, this probably increases the frequency of the aggressively thirsty messages, which may feel more invasive and objectifying than a lame dick pic ever could.
The sad fact is that bad messages happen. You can block them, report them, make unwelcoming statements in your profile and they will still happen. I don’t like that this is the baseline we have to accept. I hate that we have to assume this is “just how things are.” I don’t have a solution to the problem. What I can do is to look for ways to make the problem less corrosive and frustrating.
Crappy, douchey, invasive humans do not read profiles. I only receive 5-10 messages a year from strangers, but even though I am listed as a heterosexual male, at least half of those are from people listed as heterosexual males telling me they will dominate me and to call them master. If I knew a way to make them read, I would. My Jedi training is far from complete.
I think these crappy messages feel the worst when they make up the vast majority of the messages you receive. If for every 100 messages you get from strangers, 90 are bad and 10 are good, it starts feeling like the world is bad and mostly full of bad people. I see a variety of different ways to combat this problem. The funniest of them are public shaming with screen shots, but to the person receiving the messages, but as it continues to happen it becomes progressively less funny and more frustrating. That’s when people get jaded.
The common response is to start wording their profile to appear hostile and unwelcoming, in hope that the bad people will stay away. The hostility and unwelcome vibe grow stronger as bad people continue to show up. There is something that gets lost in this process that can take a lot longer to notice. The more hostile the profile becomes, the worse the % of good vs. bad messages become. If a neutral profile leads to 90 bad and 10 good per 100, a highly hostile profile can often end up with 99 bad and 1 good per 100.
The reason is that caring, thoughtful, respectful, and sensitive people do read profiles. They probably read too much into profiles. When they encounter someone that has a profile in bold red and all caps, “DO NOT WRITE TO ME UNLESS…” followed by a list of characteristics, they won’t feel comfortable writing to that person unless they meet those characteristics. In the end, a potentially good message from a decent human doesn’t end up being sent.
These aren’t necessarily accurate numbers, but I’ll just use them for illustrative purposes.
Neutral Profiles = 90% Bad/10% Good incoming messages from strangers
Hostile Profiles = 99% Bad/1% Good incoming messages from strangers
A thought that I had about this that started last night during that conversation is something that I have never really seen much of, nor known someone who did it, so I have no estimations on if this is actually effective. The theory is simple, really.
Douchey-bad people do not read profiles and will send their douchey-bad messages regardless of what you have written.
Thoughtful, caring, and respectful good people do read profiles and can be scared off by hostility.
What if you were to make a profile that is amazingly warm and welcoming to the good people?
Remove the “DO NOT WRITE TO ME UNLESS…” and replace it with something like this at the start:
“Please write to me if you are a good, kind, and thoughtful person. If you are empathetic and compassionate and value friendship and connecting with others, you sound like someone that I would want to know and I would love to hear from you. I especially want to hear from you if you are fun and provide interesting conversation. My only requirement is that you treat me with respect and do not objectify me by bombarding me with your fantasies and fetishes unless I ask for them. If this sounds like you, please do send me a message.”
Do you think that after one year that might help to steer the percentages in the better direction? Instead of 90%/10%, would it be possible to make it say, 70% Bad/30% Good?
I’m wondering if anyone has done this with their profile before and what the results were. Please share if you know. It might not work, but my inner nerd really wants to know for sure.