Entertaining

Ask Mindy: Three Message Boards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Wednesday, February 21, 2018



Readers, welcome back to the world of Mindy Morals, the spiritual saucier from New Orleans, Louisiana. Every week, Mindy mixes up a delicious bouillabaisse for her readers—three parts sensible advice, two parts empathy, and one part andouille sausage. This week, Mindy answers all your internet-related queries.


Mindy,


I love Twitter. Love, love, love it. You know that warm, fuzzy feeling that most people get from their friends and family? That’s how I feel when I open up my laptop and see that little blue bird. I love sharing my opinions with the world, and knowing that my people—the people who really get me—will respond with encouragement and praise. That’s not something that I get in the real world. Even though I’m admired by nearly everybody, I still can’t help but feel disrespected in my everyday life. Sure, there are some haters on twitter. But that’s part of the fun! And unlike the real world, where people who disagree with me are often serious, well-regarded people, my twitter detractors are all losers I can safely ignore.


But I can recognize when there’s a problem, Mindy. Sometimes, I find it difficult to drag myself away from my screen long enough to engage with others. Life outside my computer and phone screen just feels like a shallow imitation. And as I channel more and more rage and energy into online feuds, I worry that I don’t have enough compassion left.


What do I do?


 


Sincerely,

Hail to the Tweet


 


Dear Hail,


It sounds like you’ve got a case of internet addiction! But don’t worry—it can happen to anybody. Mr. Morals got so obsessed with his model railroading forums that I had to lock his laptop in my desk.


Unfortunately, internet addiction is not something that I can easily help fix through this column. Addictions are different for everybody. Until you sit down with an addiction specialist, there isn’t too much I can do to help you. That being said, it always helps to set aside internet-free time. Tell yourself that you can’t use the computer for at least one hour each afternoon. Then try two and keep going from there. You’ll never be able to live without technology—this is the 21st century, after all—but hopefully, you can find a way to balance it with everything else in your life.


Beyond that, I would also recommend avoiding petty feuds or dramas. One of the worst aspects of internet addiction is the way that so much time online can quickly breed emotional instability and aggression. You mentioned liking twitter—while that website can be a fun place to read others’ opinions, I would caution you not to get sucked into conflicts there. That kind of drama makes leaving the web that much harder.


 


Hi Mindy,


Well, I caved. Sick of cooking for one, tired of fruitless blind dates, I made a tinder account. I quickly met somebody very special. He said his name was Ernest, and said that I may have heard of him—he’d saved Christmas, after all. I was smitten. We began a deep, intimate texting relationship, full of inside jokes and teary personal revelations.


But something wasn’t right. Whenever I tried to meet up with him, Ernest told me that he was busy, or that his mom was in town, or that he was . Finally, after nearly a year, I demanded that we meet, and said that I’d cut off all contact if we didn’t. He relented, and I discovered the awful truth: he was only 15 years old. And his name wasn’t Ernest, either. It was Chester!


Mindy, I don’t begrudge Chester for what he did to me. He was just a curious kid. But I’m scared to try online dating again. Is it worth the risks?


 


Sincerely,

Reel Big Catfish


 


Hi Catfish,


Like I told Hail to the Tweet, although the internet has brought us so many wonderful things, it has also created entirely new terrors. If you’d told me about “catfishing” twenty years ago, I would have had no idea what you were talking about. But now half my patients seem to be dealing with it.


You shouldn’t allow one bad apple to ruin your search for love, Catfish. There are millions of wonderful people out there, both in person and, yes, on apps like Tinder. But it’s important to view these apps as just a different way of meeting people, and not as a substitute for actual dating. While making new internet friends can be fun, you shouldn’t keep them in cyberspace forever. Ask people out! Grab a salad with them! Take your conversations from the computer to the coffeehouse.


 


Dear Mindy,


Several years ago, I bought an apartment. (Home ownership, what what!!!) At the time, my neighborhood was pretty run-down, so I was able to acquire a big two-bedroom apartment for a song. Now, the area is significantly nicer, and—as these things do—the apartment has increased in value considerably. And so have my monthly maintenance fees. In fact, they’ve increased so much that I have no choice but to take on a roommate.


I didn’t want to deal with paying a broker, so I figured I’d just list the apartment on craigslist. Bad idea, Mindy. Baddddd idea. Although I received some very nice responses, some of the others made me want to poke my eyes out. I’ve gotten death threats, anti-Semitic rants, horrifying sexual fantasies—whatever disturbing thing you can think of, I’ve received.


I’ve since found a wonderful roommate, and I’ve taken down the listing. But I still get the odd disgusting message now and then. It gives me great anxiety, Mindy, and I’m not sure what to do. What do you think?


 


Sincerely,

Dissed by the ‘list


 


Dear Dissed,


You don’t need to tell me about the perils of the internet! Most of the questions that get sent in to the email address at the bottom of this page never see the light of day, for obvious reasons.


But while I wish I could give you some hope, the sad fact is that unless you know who the sender is, there just isn’t a lot that can be done legally to stop messages like the ones you’ve been getting. The fact that you don’t get as many anymore is a positive sign, and hopefully they’ll eventually stop altogether. But until then, the only thing you can really do is to ignore them and block their senders. And like I said in all of this week’s responses: try not to let online drama ruin your real life. 


 


 


That’s it for this week, but Mindy is always taking questions. Need help solving your dilemma? Just email mindy@manhattanmedia.com. You just might read your answer in next week’s column.



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