Bloggers: Be Careful Of Your Fans

By Jonathan Timar

So I have been away for a while, much longer than I realized. Well, I have a good reason, and this post will explain it all.

I thought long and hard before posting this article. By saying what I want to say, I will almost certainly end up hurting someone’s feelings. It is also not clearly related to the primary topic of this blog. The question then becomes, is it worth it?

Well, after thinking long and hard, I still wasn’t really sure. I absolutely hate to hurt anyone’s feelings if at all possible.

However, that person took a course of action which made the decision much easier for me, and removed any feeling of guilt about posting this story. In fact, I may even have to share this information with the police. Even so, I have taken steps to preserve anonymity.

I receive an email from a fan

About a week ago, I received an email that was sent via the contact page on this website. The sender was evidently a fan of my writing, and had found my website via a forum that I participate in occasionally. I was rather flattered by what she had to say, and because I had seen her posting in the forum for years, I didn’t hesitate when she asked if she could add me to Facebook.

I forget the exact sequence of events but at some point I also gave her my phone number, and we did talk on the phone once for a few minutes about our mutual interests. I considered it harmless, just as I considered it harmless when she invited me to a couple of functions, invitations I declined due to prior engagements.

But as it happened this person and I ended up attending the same industry function, and I thought that since I had declined her previous invitations, it would be a nice gesture to call her and see if she wanted to get together. I considered it an opportunity to network and perhaps make a new, like-minded, friend. What I didn’t know is that her intentions were somewhat beyond that, and so I proceeded to arrange to meet her for coffee.

When I met her in the coffee shop, I immediately detected the strong vibe that she considered this a date, and I became increasingly uncomfortable, and rapidly. The situation was not helped by the fact that I was completely unable to make conversation with her, every time I would say something, instead of jumping in with her own thoughts, she would just smile and nod, or say “mmm hmm”, and leave me scrambling to think of something else to say. It was a tremendously awkward situation for me, and my mind began racing for an excuse to leave.

Scene from "Misery"
Scene from “Misery”

Coming up with nothing, I said something about having to meet some friends, and then as politely as I could, I told her it had been nice to meet her, wished her a good afternoon, and excused myself.

I did feel a little bad about it, but in the end, I didn’t really have a choice, staying would have only lead her on.

I really thought that would be the end of it, but when I got home I discovered a message on Facebook. In brief, she stated that she was confused about why I left the meeting. I decided that honestly would be the best policy, and told her the truth. I replied that it simply hadn’t been working, the conversation wasn’t flowing, and that I had felt a bit uncomfortable. I apologized, and told her I hadn’t meant to be rude. Again, I thought this would be the end of it.

But it wasn’t.

That night, at around midnight, I received a phone call from her. Actually I didn’t know it was her because she had blocked her number. Because I had an early morning ahead of me, I did not pick up the message.

In the morning however, when I did listen, I was treated to a five-minute long rant, which, to say the least, left me very unsettled. In the early part of that afternoon I received several more phone calls from her, with no messages. Some of the phone call came from blocked phone number.

When I returned home from work I immediately removed and blocked this person from Facebook. Upon doing so, I almost immediately received another phone call, and this time another five-minute rant was left on my voicemail. This time the content had moved beyond simply being strange and unsettling, to being quite disturbing.

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    I decided to send an email to this person and attempt to give them a little perspective. This was what it said:

    Hi Person,

    I had written a rather extensive email here, but upon reflection I imagine anything I say will be hopelessly misconstrued.

    I have already explained why I left the coffee shop, and I gave you the courtesy of honesty, and truth. I am sure you are a wonderful person, but for me to have carried on knowing that you had romantic intentions that I did not share would have served neither of us well. Perhaps I should have just said as much right then and there, but I was trying to preserve your feelings, not hurt them.

    Your voicemail messages were not proportional to the situation. I am not a lover who broke your heart, I am a near stranger who you have known collectively for about 20 minutes, please try to keep it in perspective. The content of them suggests that you had an emotional investment that was far beyond reasonable. I am sorry to say, they were very unnerving to me, and they are the reason I removed you from Facebook.

    It is clear that you have dealt with some pain in your past, and that you are likely dealing with it now. I do hope it gets better for you. I wish you all the best in the future, in love, life and career.



    Contrary to my hopes, this did not end her phone calls, in fact it triggered two more messages, and once again the level of, and I am sorry to use the word but there is no better one, crazy had escalated.

    The first of them began with cackling maniacal laughter, and that is not even a slight exaggeration. That was followed by her telling me that she had received my “hateful, hateful” email (see above for the exact words of this hateful email). These last two message were laced with profanity, and included threats, promises actually, that she would ruin my career and reputation. Apart from that they were quite frankly the rants and raves of someone who was clearly very, very unstable, they were downright frightening.

    I called her back the tell her that she was never to contact me again, and that I would have no choice but to contact the police if she did. Thus far she has respected that.

    So the moral of the story is:

    Be careful, for God’s sake! You really never know who you are dealing with, and anyone can appear normal and well-adjusted in an email.

    As bloggers, we expose a lot of ourselves for collection by countless anonymous strangers, and some of those people will feel that they know you on a personal level as a result. we need to recognise that fact, and take precautions accordingly.

    I let my guard down in this case. Granted, there is not a lot I could have done differently, but I did second guess my own gut feelings. As I always say (and by always I mean once in a while when it seems appropriate) trust your gut!

    UPDATE: Listen to the messages and hear for yourself: