Social media is a substantial weapon in our arsenal of manipulation. Invariably, our selection of targets and the courting of the same will begin either through social media or if that is not the starting place, we will use social media as a device to aid and progress our seduction of you. From mining your online profiles for the purposes of gathering information about you which we can then use to maximise the prospects of successfully seducing you through to utilising the pervasiveness and flexibility social media affords to maintain our love bombing campaign. At the outset we probably sourced a half a dozen prospects including you, our tendrils reaching out through the electronic highways until we settled on you as our primary source. Once secured, we then allowed the width and depth of social media to expand the blazing glory of the golden period. How exciting was it to wake up and wonder what we had posted to your wall? How exhilarating was it to see our liking of your tweet and the subsequent re-tweet to our own followers? It became addictive, the frequent checking of your various social media profiles to see what delightful comments had been strewn across them by us. Of course, we would never shirk the opportunity to use the power of social media to devalue you and harness it for the purposes of smearing you to all and sundry. There is however a period of time that lies between the seduction and the out and out devaluation. It is a period of uncertainty, confusion and worry. It is hinterland beyond the wonderful golden period and outside of the scathing and savage devaluation. We revel in this ambiguous period since the plausible deniability that accompanies it allows us to plant those seeds of doubt in your mind so that you begin to think that it is you and not us that is the problem. You are forced to over-analyse, speculate and waste countless hours wondering what our intentions are. We have been so loving to you, so surely this behaviour cannot be what you fear it is, a dimming of that desire, a passing of the passion and a limiting of our love for you? No, after all the wonderful things that we have said, especially plastered over social media so many times, these recently odd activities cannot mean we have grown tired of you can they? You do not want to worry but you cannot help but do so because something is not right. You are fearful of mentioning your concerns to us as you do not wish to be seen as insecure but these actions are troubling you. Are you reading something into them that is not there? Are you over-reacting to them? After all, it is not as if we are directly writing something that is hurtful are we? Or are we? It is this uncertainty that serves us well in the provision of fuel. Furthermore, should you challenge us we can brush your concerns to one side with ease which will only serve to increase your apprehension. This tactic then paves the way for us to press forward without our devaluation of you, secure in our knowledge that you are now feeling vulnerable, that you are unsure of what to think at best and at worst you believe you are seeing things which are not there. This period of uncertainty which we cultivate and engender through social media is a purposeful step towards your devaluation. It is calculated to serve us.
Be warned; should you see these signs then understand that your devaluation is on its way and we are merely preparing the ground for the next stage in your ongoing and painful dance with us. Do not seek to find an innocent explanation should you witness these in action. Expect the brush-off from us and to be mocked for being worried, but worry you should. These are clear indicators of our calculated attempt to mess with your mind, using social media, before your devaluation begins. Here are ten ways in which we will do this.
- Frequent likes on somebody else’s profile
Invariably this will be somebody of the opposite sex who you do not know and have not met. There will not be any comments from us – not yet – but a plethora of likes will appear on that person’s posts from us. Each picture they post will receive a thumbs up, a star or a heart from us, their comments or tweets, no matter how mindless, trivial or banal will have our indicator of approval. Indeed, as you scroll through this person’s output (and we know you will be looking) you will be hard pressed to find any post which does not bear our mark. This person may indeed be in the early stages of our cultivation as your replacement or it just may be a simple triangulation, but either way you ought not to underestimate the impact of those likes.
- Removing your tagging of us
This is not a wholesale removal of ourselves from being identified on your Facebook page. We will not request the removal of those photographs including us or of us alone. That is saved until later. Instead there will be one or two removals of the tags so you are left wondering whether it was done by mistake (which of course we will reassure you that it was the case should you actually dare to ask us) or if there is something else behind it. It will one or two removed today, then another couple in a few days’ time and then some more as the trickle becomes a flow. This will engender a sense of apprehension in you which will have you checking your profile to ensure that there have not been any more tag removals. You will be relieved when there have not been and dismayed when more happen but each time the removal is small in number as we deploy our well-honed salami-slicing technique once again. This will keep you in the zone of it being too small to make a fuss about but not insignificant so it preys on your mind.
- Block then unblock
It maybe for an hour, possibly half a day but never any longer. This is done to create alarm and consternation as you wonder why this has happened. If you happen to raise it with us we will express surprise and suggest a glitch in the system or it must have happened by accident and re-instate you with a smile and a patronising look. Usually you will sit fretting over it, wondering what it signals. Is it a mistake or is this a sign of something bad? You don’t want to necessarily raise it with us as this may make it seem you are always checking our relevant social media platform and so you endure an hour or so of repeated checking and nervousness until a huge flood of relief when you find you have been unblocked. That sense of relief is overwhelming and is part of tightening our grip on you by giving you a first taste of the roller coaster to come.
- Look who’s back
You have noticed that we have recently followed or friended an ex. An alarm bell starts to ring. Why have we done this? This was the ex who was labelled as a stalker and a lunatic, who we warned you about and now we are friends with them on the relevant form of social media. What is that all about? You want to ask but you do not want to appear insecure or suggest you feel threatened, but you are and you are caught between (and this is what all of these machinations seek to do) needing to know and not wanting to show you are actual bothered by this development (because it might be something minor) even when you are. There are no messages between us and the ex, no interaction whatsoever, but who came after who? Did they send a friend request to us or was it the other way round? We both follow one another on Twitter – who initiated it? The questions form and race around your mind.
- Message in the night
You awaken and check through the overnight postings on Facebook et al and notice that we were last on-line, according to messenger, 4 hours ago, but that was at 3am. What were we doing up at that time and more to the point, who were we talking to? The reality is we may well have not been talking to anybody but we decided to set the alarm, wake and create the appearance of having been doing something in the expectation that you will notice and subsequently become unnerved and suspicious at this development which then happens for the next few nights running before halting. Do you mention it? What was going on? Can you raise it with us or do you risk being accused of stalking our movements? What’s the matter with you? Do you not trust us or something?
You notice that we occasionally send messages, post or comment to a particular person along these lines.
“Hi, remember this one (insert YouTube link to song)”
“This was great back in the day wasn’t it (cue picture of an album cover)”
“We should go and see them again like old times (insert picture of link for ticket sales for upcoming concert)”
Who is this person? We have never mentioned them before and you thought you knew about our past. Why are we suggesting doing things with them and evoking old memories? Are we just friends or is there something else going on?
- Meme blast
There is a sudden upsurge in postings which contain supposedly deep messages or retweeting the pseudo-philosophical output of a Twitter user about love and relationships. The memes and announcements appear to have our endorsement by reason of our posting them or retweeting them. Such examples would include: –
“I am not alone but I feel so lonely.”
“Don’t worry if you are single, God is looking at you right now saying I am saving you for someone special.”
“Trust is like a paper, once it is crumpled it cannot be perfect again.”
You’ve seen many of these cluttering up timelines before but why have we started sharing them? Are we directing them at you or someone else? Have you done something wrong? What has brought this on?
- Missing in Action
There was a time when you would always enjoy the fact that after each time we did something together there would be reference to it on social media. We would check in at a particular restaurant and tag you as being there with us. We would make reference to the weather being particularly delightful at some picturesque location and make mention of you. Later on you would look back at this pleasant reminders of a special time together and also, admit it, you wanted the world to know about it too. All of a sudden we go out together but there is nothing posted. It happens again. Even worse when you make mention of it, you notice it does not appear on our timeline as we have changed our settings so that it has to be approved by us first before being seen by other people. Why have we done this? Do we not want people to know about you? Are we ashamed of you all of a sudden? Are we hiding you from someone else?
- We didn’t mention it
You spoke to us earlier and we explained we were having a quiet night in watching a film. Browsing through social media you see Instagram pictures of us enjoying a night on the tiles. We never mentioned that earlier. Perhaps we changed our minds? Maybe we got a last minute invitation? What if it was planned and we chose not to mention it? Surely we didn’t forget about it? Perhaps we didn’t want you to know, but if that was the case why are we plastering the night out all over social media? By the time this happens a third and fourth time your suspicions are causing you considerable concern.
We post a comment or reply to a tweet you have directed to us with something that does not make sense. It does not follow in respect of what you have written. This non-sequitur has you puzzled. Why did we do that? Then it dawns on you. It must have been meant for someone else. The content of the message will hint at something which could be of concern – “ha ha yes it was brilliant” – what was brilliant? Did we spend the night with someone else? Did we go somewhere with somebody? Who was it? Then again, it might be innocent. Perhaps it refers to the recent football match we went to with our friends or perhaps something we watched on television, but it has unsettled you. Of course there was no message meant for anyone else, we just posted this comment or reply to make you think that it was meant for someone else in order to increase your paranoia.