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Author Topic: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)  (Read 2677 times)

Jenett

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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #30 on: January 18, 2016, 07:57:58 am »
Quote from: Allaya;185366
Texts force me to be concise and I am much less likely to stumble over myself and write something that someone can pick apart. Also, they expose me less in the sense that I can always pick up a new SIM card, but changing emails is a HUGE upheaval.


I guess part of my question is 'is conciseness to that degree the thing that's appropriate when we're talking about in-depth training'?

(I make this explicit in the stuff I linked, but my take is "I have told you a whole bunch about me on this site but I know nothing about you: the intro letter is a chance to even that up." plus make sure there isn't a major mismatch in expectations. Which I've had - everything from someone assuming and wanting a women-only group to people who wanted way more ceremonial practice than I do or am interested in doing or who were only free at times I couldn't be available.)

Quote

And to supply some context for how my thoughts have been shaped: SIM cards are cheap, online classified ads routinely have you texting strangers, and (honestly) nobody here gives a shit.


Ah! That makes sense - and it's at least partially a technology issue. While it's possible for people to swap SIM cards in the US, it hasn't been the dominant mode for a lot of people.

(Cell companies are finally getting rid of the 2 year contract model here, but the vast majority of people are still pretty used to being locked into a single number, on a long-term contract, and that you use, by default, for everything and which therefore ties pretty directly to identifiable info you may have elsewhere. There are some ways around this, like Google Voice numbers and similar services, but those take setup.)  

Alternately, we've have wide access to free email for a decade: someone exploring Paganism and not wanting it linked to their primary email can pretty easily set up a free email account, access it in various ways (including a smartphone) and go on from there.

I am more squirrely about connecting my Pagan self and my professional self than a lot of people, which is mostly a side effect of working in education and libraries. (Which is a whole other thread, really.)
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Allaya

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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #31 on: January 18, 2016, 09:45:52 am »
Quote from: Jenett;185368
I guess part of my question is 'is conciseness to that degree the thing that's appropriate when we're talking about in-depth training'?

(I make this explicit in the stuff I linked, but my take is "I have told you a whole bunch about me on this site but I know nothing about you: the intro letter is a chance to even that up." plus make sure there isn't a major mismatch in expectations. Which I've had - everything from someone assuming and wanting a women-only group to people who wanted way more ceremonial practice than I do or am interested in doing or who were only free at times I couldn't be available.)


Ah! That makes sense - and it's at least partially a technology issue. While it's possible for people to swap SIM cards in the US, it hasn't been the dominant mode for a lot of people.

(Cell companies are finally getting rid of the 2 year contract model here, but the vast majority of people are still pretty used to being locked into a single number, on a long-term contract, and that you use, by default, for everything and which therefore ties pretty directly to identifiable info you may have elsewhere. There are some ways around this, like Google Voice numbers and similar services, but those take setup.)  

Alternately, we've have wide access to free email for a decade: someone exploring Paganism and not wanting it linked to their primary email can pretty easily set up a free email account, access it in various ways (including a smartphone) and go on from there.

I am more squirrely about connecting my Pagan self and my professional self than a lot of people, which is mostly a side effect of working in education and libraries. (Which is a whole other thread, really.)

 

Oh, I'm incredibly squirrely about public/personal division as well. I maintain defined boundaries between areas and have quite a few email addresses. I see it as logical to extend such boundaries with other forms of contact too.

When I've traveled back to the US, it's been rather trivial to buy a cheap 'burner' SIM card with a pre-set data/phone plan. I think if I were in a situation resembling yours, I would have a burner SIM or burner phone, bought with cash, for pagan life. It's a rather good way of screening people as you are giving up practically zero personal data while they, on the other hand, are not.

As for training, etc...I find that text can be good for sending out feelers in a way that phone or email is not. The person getting the text can shoot off a "hey, i'm booked up" or "maybe you can mail me?". Texts are not nearly as intrusive on someone's time like a phone call is (you drop everything to answer) or an email (gee, I guess I owe them more than a one line reply. *sigh*).
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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #32 on: January 18, 2016, 11:10:35 am »
Quote from: Jenett;185005

This question brought to you by the fact I got two text-to-email yesterday to the email address I use for group work stuff, saying, basically "I am a male solitary pagan in [town I live in], I'm interested. Please respond.'

My actual response was, roughly, asking "Can you email [address] with a name I can call you, a brief background on what you've done so far and what you're interested in, and we can go from there?" But I'm trying to decide if my bafflement of someone doing this by text is the fact I mostly don't text, or something else.

(More about my own thoughts later, but I'll note that he couldn't have found that email address without it having a fairly explicit "Here's what I find helpful in an initial contact" info.)



Ok. So I was confused because I was wondering how this guy got your phone number in the first place and went back and reread your initial post.

It sounds like he sent you emails from his texting service, right? If so, he probably has your incoming replies going directly to his email. What he's done (probably) is consolidated his texting and email and that they both arrive in one inbox, most likely his messaging inbox. That way he doesn't have to check/write emails and texts separately, which can be annoying if he receives a high volume of both.

This makes communication a lot easier if you're primarily on a smart phone or phablet.  


Anyway, he clearly ignored or didn't see the initial contact info and that's his bad, but in the future you may get that information in text-to-emails from people who have also consolidated their inbox/services, and I think that's completely reasonable of them.
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Jenett

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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #33 on: January 18, 2016, 01:22:45 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;185374

It sounds like he sent you emails from his texting service, right? If so, he probably has your incoming replies going directly to his email.


That sounds like it - the emails come from what is clearly a phone number length number at messaging.service.com.

On the other hand, it still strikes me as a really weird mode for an initial contact? (there's nothing that meant he had to make first contact on short notice, y'know? It could wait until he could type in more length.)

And it really does make it annoying to try and reply to him: his 2nd reply to my 'please send email with more background' is 3 separate messages, with about a sentence and a third in each message.

This is, understandably, a bit annoying to read. Or engage with on any deeper level than 'there is this person'

Quote
I think that's completely reasonable of them.

 
And I'm still stuck on 'is this actually a reasonable mode for an initial contact about a fairly complex subject where exchanging some details helps a lot before setting up to meet? But I think we're not likely to agree on that.

(Now I've revised the website, I'm giving him one more "No, really, *email* with more detail, but I suspect there is no hope here for us working this out.)
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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #34 on: January 18, 2016, 01:48:43 pm »
Quote from: Allaya;185370
When I've traveled back to the US, it's been rather trivial to buy a cheap 'burner' SIM card with a pre-set data/phone plan. I think if I were in a situation resembling yours, I would have a burner SIM or burner phone, bought with cash, for pagan life. It's a rather good way of screening people as you are giving up practically zero personal data while they, on the other hand, are not.

That's really interesting.  I would never have thought of getting a second phone in a situation like that. Probably because of cost. But I have several email addresses for different areas of my life, which cost nothing and accomplish the same goal.
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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #35 on: January 18, 2016, 01:59:19 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;185376
And it really does make it annoying to try and reply to him: his 2nd reply to my 'please send email with more background' is 3 separate messages, with about a sentence and a third in each message.

This sounds like he wrote a 6 or 7 sentence response, and when he sent it and it landed as a text, it got broken up into the short bites.  That's what happens when texting with someone who is on a different cell service than you are -- like one person is one Verizon and the other is on Sprint.

The thing I think is really fascinating about this thread is the clear difference between those of us who think initial contact via text is completely normal and preferred and those of us who think it's weird and wouldn't do it.  I mean, I totally get why people wouldn't want to phone in this situation, which seems like the majority of the respondents in this thread, and I agree with that.  

But I wonder why such a big difference about texting and emailing, if it's not an age difference.

One thing that's come up a couple of times here is that texts are short and, therefore, easier and less risky. But I don't get why an email can't be just as short. What makes email inspire more anxiety than texting?
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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #36 on: January 18, 2016, 04:18:25 pm »
Quote from: Aster Breo;185383
This sounds like he wrote a 6 or 7 sentence response, and when he sent it and it landed as a text, it got broken up into the short bites.  That's what happens when texting with someone who is on a different cell service than you are -- like one person is one Verizon and the other is on Sprint.


Yeah, though - here, let me do the stats quickly.

Initial contact, part 1: 26 words, 2 sentences + 2 words.
Initial contact, part 2: 9 words, end of that sentence.
Total: 35 words, 3 sentences.

Followup, part 1: 25 words, one sentence and change.
Followup, part 2: 23 words, one sentence and about 5 words of other sentences.
Followup, part 3: 16 words, one and a half sentences.
Total: 64 words, 5 sentences.

To put this in context, the part of this post after the next quoted material is 175 words, or about double what he's sent across those two messages. And that's not me being overly wordy.

Quote

The thing I think is really fascinating about this thread is the clear difference between those of us who think initial contact via text is completely normal and preferred and those of us who think it's weird and wouldn't do it.


Yeah, that's a thing I find utterly fascinating. (In this case, I don't think it's generational: he says he's been doing Pagan stuff for 20+ years, so more likely in his 30s than younger, and possibly older.)

The thing is, I wouldn't think the texting was *that* weird, if I'd provided a method that encouraged short answer communication. (I still think it's the wrong mode for people who want to work with me, and I am very 'begin as you mean to go on' about it in some ways.)

But I didn't provide that kind of method.  

(The HPS who trained me, who disliked email, was fine with people calling her, which I find *utterly* baffling on several levels, but it worked for her, and she put the number out there, and okay, that worked for her. She also did email, it just took longer to get a response because she'd do replies to Seekers in batches every few weeks. I took those replies over right after I was initiated, because it made things easier.)
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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #37 on: January 18, 2016, 04:44:45 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;185386
Yeah, though - here, let me do the stats quickly.

Initial contact, part 1: 26 words, 2 sentences + 2 words.
Initial contact, part 2: 9 words, end of that sentence.
Total: 35 words, 3 sentences.

Followup, part 1: 25 words, one sentence and change.
Followup, part 2: 23 words, one sentence and about 5 words of other sentences.
Followup, part 3: 16 words, one and a half sentences.
Total: 64 words, 5 sentences.

To put this in context, the part of this post after the next quoted material is 175 words, or about double what he's sent across those two messages. And that's not me being overly wordy.

Oh, I didn't mean to imply that he was writing enough our giving you enough info.

I just meant that it sounds like what happens to me when someone who isn't on Verizon sends me a text that's longer than a specific character count. It gets broken into separate texts that are each of or under the character count limit.
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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #38 on: January 18, 2016, 07:44:58 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;185386
In this case, I don't think it's generational: he says he's been doing Pagan stuff for 20+ years, so more likely in his 30s than younger, and possibly older.)

 
I wonder if it's an introversion/extroversion thing?

I'm fairly introverted, and I would be very weirded out if I got a text from a stranger (aside from the how-did-you-get-my-number issue), much like if a random person on the bus asked me to go for coffee with them. It's a level of interaction that I'm not willing to grant to all and sundry.

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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #39 on: January 19, 2016, 01:12:32 am »
Quote from: Jenett;185376
That sounds like it - the emails come from what is clearly a phone number length number at messaging.service.com.

On the other hand, it still strikes me as a really weird mode for an initial contact? (there's nothing that meant he had to make first contact on short notice, y'know? It could wait until he could type in more length.)

And it really does make it annoying to try and reply to him: his 2nd reply to my 'please send email with more background' is 3 separate messages, with about a sentence and a third in each message.

This is, understandably, a bit annoying to read. Or engage with on any deeper level than 'there is this person'


 
And I'm still stuck on 'is this actually a reasonable mode for an initial contact about a fairly complex subject where exchanging some details helps a lot before setting up to meet? But I think we're not likely to agree on that.

(Now I've revised the website, I'm giving him one more "No, really, *email* with more detail, but I suspect there is no hope here for us working this out.)



I'm assuming you don't get approached often, otherwise you'd know 99% of the time that people email and this guy is a one-off and so your site and methods are fine...or you'd know that at least 15% of the time you get texts and there's nothing too unusual in his methods no matter how annoying you find them.

Since it's highly probable that this is the first time anyone has reached out to you in awhile, I can see why you're putting way more emotional and mental energy into this than it deserves. You actually have two choices here, either be flattered and curious that someone showed interest in you as teacher, or be critical and apprehensive of how they expressed that interest.


If this is your first time(?) being approached in awhile, then being apprehensive makes total sense at the gut level. You have a nice bubble going on and this person has just brushed up against it, and you'd feel a whole lot better about that if he would just reassure you that he isn't a total weirdo. Since he hasn't made you anymore comfortable, you've sought reassurance here that rejection is your only valid option.

You've spent four pages analyzing a message down to the word count from a person who sent you a text request for further communication.  You've surveyed the members here and even though many have said that they would initiate communication through text, you still have trouble with the idea that it's not weird, unreasonable and abnormal but a different style.

So if you're going to chose the apprehensive route, then either ignore the texts or reply back that you actually can't make the time commitment right now. It's totally alright to not click with someone right away.

But if you're going the curious route, then err on the side of good faith and give it some time to naturally arrive at a more deeply engaged level of communication before deciding it won't work. (Or deciding to meet up.)

I think you really want to go the curious route, otherwise you'd have just written this guy off on your own. What's the worst that's going to happen if you waste some minutes texting/emailing this week?
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Jenett

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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #40 on: January 19, 2016, 08:31:36 am »
Quote from: Juniperberry;185413
I'm assuming you don't get approached often, otherwise you'd know 99% of the time that people email and this guy is a one-off and so your site and methods are fine...or you'd know that at least 15% of the time you get texts and there's nothing too unusual in his methods no matter how annoying you find them.


Interesting assumptions there. Why did I post? I pretty much said in the early posts in this thread: I wanted to recalibrate.

I spent August 2011 to May 2015 living in an extremely rural area with low population density, and I got a couple of people interested each year (12 over four years) in some degree of connecting up (and generally would meet them for coffee and some discussion even if it was clear coven training was not going to be a good fit.)

I then moved to a surburb of a major city, and one that for various reasons doesn't have a particularly high proportion of open ritual or related events (there are, looking at Witchvox and some other sources, a bunch of people in my position: interested in small group work.)

This is different than the Twin Cities, where I got my initial Pagan experience, which has a lot of small groups doing their own thing, but also a pretty healthy public ritual / workshop / community event ecosystem.

So, one of the things I'm trying to figure out is 'did the norms shift while I was living in rural Maine in terms of communication methods'. Another part is trying to figure out what I personally can and can't accomodate as options, since that's something that changes for me in different situations. (My new-as-of May job is incredibly demanding in terms of content learning still, which leaves less spare brain for other changes.)

Quote
Since it's highly probable that this is the first time anyone has reached out to you in awhile, I can see why you're putting way more emotional and mental energy into this than it deserves.


As I said, interesting assumption there.

I take coven work and teaching *incredibly* seriously. I think that's appropriate, given the degree of emotional engagement, time commitment, and other interactions involved. I want to do it the best that I am capable of doing, and I think that means taking time to re-examine my assumptions periodically.

Quote
You actually have two choices here, either be flattered and curious that someone showed interest in you as teacher, or be critical and apprehensive of how they expressed that interest.


I think there's more than two choices. 'flattered and curious' is something I find rather distasteful, actually, as an option: I think that it can lead to a degree of ego that doesn't make me a better priestess or teacher.

And I try not to do 'critical and apprehensive', as much as 'there's some stuff that gives me red flags, and some other stuff that is an early indicator based on past experience that something is not a good fit'. I try to figure out *what* is making me do that, because I think it's useful.

I do have experience with initial contacts (as I said up thread, probably in the low hundreds over the years) and a lot of my work and a couple of hobbies have also involved answering questions from people in various text formats in some similar ways.

I wanted to talk about it here, in this post, both to get a sounding board, and because I think it's useful for people who might be considering group work to see some of what people think about from the other side.

I try to aim for 'thoughtful and practical', personally: I am not the right teacher for every person, or even most of them. It makes sense for the other person and I can figure that out with a minimum of time and energy. When I come up against something that makes me go "This does not feel right, why?" I want to try and figure out why, not just make a decision and let it go. (Especially around things like group work.)

Quote

You've spent four pages analyzing a message down to the word count from a person who sent you a text request for further communication.  You've surveyed the members here and even though many have said that they would initiate communication through text, you still have trouble with the idea that it's not weird, unreasonable and abnormal but a different style.


Again, interesting reading of the thread. By my count, we have two people who would strongly prefer text in this situation (you and Allaya), eight people who wouldn't (for either 'type of conversation' or 'preferred method' reasons) and a couple of people where I'm not actually clear on their preferences because the conversation went in different directions.

I have, before this post, spent maybe an hour total reading and responding in this thread over the course of a couple of days. (This reply's taken me a bit longer to write up). I normally read, write, and process text very quickly.

Quote

But if you're going the curious route, then err on the side of good faith and give it some time to naturally arrive at a more deeply engaged level of communication before deciding it won't work. (Or deciding to meet up.)


And in this case, I had *done* that before starting the thread - sent a "Hey, can you reply by email, with more info" which got me the second round reply, which was both insufficiently informative and the bits that had any meaningful content make me think he's looking for a coven for reasons that would be a poor fit. Only it's not that clear, because insufficient words used on his end.

(I have since sent one final "Here is the website: read that, if you're still interested follow the letter of introduction instructions". If he does that, I'll see about coffee, but past experience makes me dubious it'll happen.)

Quote

What's the worst that's going to happen if you waste some minutes texting/emailing this week?

 
Not much. This is why I start with email, thank you.

But setting up an in-person meeting is a much bigger demand - for various reasons, I usually plan on doing at most one after-work thing during the week (beyond trivial errands), and one weekend day, and don't schedule more than that. (Yay, health issues. Not.) And I have friends I'd like to see who have to fit into that scheduling, and museums I'd like to go to, and so on.

So to make the jump from text to in person *is* a substantial one for me, and not one I do with people unless I feel there's a decent chance we're a good fit.
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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #41 on: January 19, 2016, 09:03:41 am »
Quote from: MadZealot;185365

To Jenett's original post: I found my old coven online.  I reached out to them, offering first name only plus a summary of relevant interests and experience.  Their responses were pretty quick and when they did call (from a private line) they used their craft names.  Didn't bother me; I got why they'd want a barrier between strangers.  We met on neutral ground (Starbucks) and after we shat the bull for a couple hours all felt comfortable to share real names and contact numbers.  After a couple weeks they invited me to their Yule.  It was a cautious process.  But probably necessary, even here on the Left Coast.

 
Yep. That's pretty much what my process is, and the method of most small groups who don't do open ritual - for a bunch of reasons. I want some initial conversation to make it clear meeting is worth our time (and I do put a higher bar there than some people, because of my own health limitations : if I am doing limited things outside of work and household necessities, I want to make them be decent experiences!), and then if that meeting goes well, I'll set up some further ones.

I usually do the first couple in a quiet coffee shop, covering some general topics, for both safety and practical reasons (inviting someone over means a bit more house cleaning) but I'll give someone my phone number at the point it's worth scheduling furthe meetings.

I've mentioned this story before, but while I was a new initiate, my HPS got an interested Seeker who went *way* overboard: he called something like 40 times in the space of a day after only a fairly routine "yes, we are a training coven, here's the process" kind of contact. Fortunately, my HPS was able to get hold of his wife, who got him in to see a professional, because from some of what he said, he was clearly in the midst of a mental health crisis. Over the phone was one thing, but that's a lot scarier if someone shows up at your door.

In less scary but still frustrating experiences, I've a handful of others of people who immediately latch on and say things like "I've found my new home" with lots of emotional overflow on very short acquaintance. In my experience, these also often don't end well, and there can be a lot of messy fallout for the teacher and particularly for other group members that can be difficult to deal with.

It only takes an experience or two like that for sensible people to want to take things slowly, not invite someone into their home immediately, and otherwise make it clear that this is not a fast process, nor should be. I tend to think people should be very cautious of covens or small focused groups who don't have a good filtering process : it usually suggests things about the leaders and their level of experience or goals that aren't sustainable or good for students.

(I think the situation's very different for more casual settings, like open rituals or networking groups / pub moots / etc, but those things also often occur in places where you have some more options if something gets weird in the bad ways, rather than in someone's actual home.)
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Seeking: first steps on a Pagan path (advice for seekers and people new to Paganism)

Mellee

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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #42 on: January 24, 2016, 08:40:46 pm »
Quote from: Jack;185304
...if I was looking to join a coven (and even when I'm looking at something as mundane as a social group at the UU church) I would prefer initial contact via email over phone or face to face. I'm much better at sorting out what I want to say in longform text, especially for a conversation as complicated as finding a teacher or joining a magical working group.

 
When I first contacted my local HP, I did so via email - we went back and forth there before the phone convo, then face to face coffee meetup. It eased any initial awkwardness while allowing us both a degree of security/privacy while exchanging information.

Put me down as another person who dislikes texts from or to strangers. I'm 32, have had a cell phone since I was 17, and text a lot... including occasionally for business purposes. But my communication style is still way more formal than most of my acquaintances.

Quote from: Juniperberry;185413
I'm assuming you don't get approached often...


See, if anything, I would've assumed the opposite - but that those approaches have been happening since the years when texting wasn't the mainstay of communication that it has now become.

You know what they say about assumptions, haha.

Maybe it's not a generational difference, as in age, but as in technology-as-communication? If you've spent years contacting other pagans by phone or letter, then maybe the switch to email was weird & something to get used to. If you've experienced a lot of contact via email, then text messaging is the new thing.

I still find it weird to use Facebook & social media to discuss stuff with other witches, but my aunt (older than me but newer to chatting to witchy folks) loves it.

lizcommotion

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Re: Making first contact (and new-fangled communication methods)
« Reply #43 on: January 26, 2016, 02:12:04 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;185422
I usually do the first couple in a quiet coffee shop, covering some general topics, for both safety and practical reasons (inviting someone over means a bit more house cleaning) but I'll give someone my phone number at the point it's worth scheduling furthe meetings.

I've mentioned this story before, but while I was a new initiate, my HPS got an interested Seeker who went *way* overboard: he called something like 40 times in the space of a day after only a fairly routine "yes, we are a training coven, here's the process" kind of contact. Fortunately, my HPS was able to get hold of his wife, who got him in to see a professional, because from some of what he said, he was clearly in the midst of a mental health crisis. Over the phone was one thing, but that's a lot scarier if someone shows up at your door.

 
I have to meet someone a few times and vet them thoroughly before they get my phone number.

I actually have to vet them a bit before they get my "real name" email address. I have a couple alternates for "random internet things" and a separate one for "random craigslist stranger."

If anything I find the individual's total disrespect of boundaries the biggest red flag. For example, if the method were email (your preferred contact) and they spoke in more complete sentences, but you set a boundary like "I am away this weekend I'll get in touch with you on Monday" and you came back to an inbox of five emails...I would also feel very uncomfortable pursuing further contact with that person, much less developing a student-teacher relationship with them.

I've had one creepy ex who almost turned stalker, and though I have internet friends, I am wary of red flags of boundary pushing.

So yeah, it's definitely not just you.

(and I'm a millennial and prefer email as a communication method, then texting, then phone, and never voicemail unless it's for professional reasons and thus unavoidable, so.)

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