I was invited to take part in a poetry reading on Sunday night, spanning not only the UK but other countries in the Anglosphere.

This was a mammoth four-hour stint, even with a time limit of ten minutes per poet, plus just one five-minute break. My spot was halfway through, but I stayed the whole time because I wanted to listen to the rest of them, most of whom were event hosts like me.

I performed one serious piece and two humorous. Although there was no audible feedback, I could see some of the faces in the crowd and read comments in the chat box. The set seemed to go down well.

At that point, I received a friend request on Facebook. I was glad that someone enjoyed my work enough to make that request. Furthermore, I’d been in a planning group with some of the other performers, so we were acquainted already.

It must also be stated that the public part of my profile clearly states ‘Not open to friend requests’, yet as of Monday morning, I had four requests waiting. One of them sent me a message acknowledging that he’d seen my profile, and was basically trying his luck. I admire his gumption, but I told him he could either follow my Hotchpotch open-mike page or my Twitter account instead.

On the back of this, it occurred to me that when people perform at my events, they might also have the same view, and a lot of folk don’t feel comfortable telling someone to back off. To this end, I’ve added a disclaimer to the open-mike. It’s likely I’ll tinker with the exact wording, but the spirit will be reinforced in event promotions:

Unless consent has been given, the host and contributors are not open to friend requests.

This alone is unlikely to stop the issue; three people have either not read my profile or wilfully ignored it. However, it acts as a pre-emptive reminder to keep some distance from those who don’t want to interact so closely with others.

2 thoughts on “Poettiquette

  1. Glad you got to enjoy a poetry reading night and wow at people ignoring your message about no friend requests and sending them anyway. Our of curiosity, what are your reasons not to want to add them there? Is it because you don’t see the poetry circles as a way to meet new friends. Or something else?

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    1. In mid-March of last year, just before the virus took a grip, I removed someone from my Facebook friends. I couldn’t recall the last time we’d spoken, and I’d probably only added him after a poetry gig, plus I wasn’t particularly engaged in what he was posting. I realise there exists an option to mute, but I’d rather have friends where I actually like reading their posts.

      Within maybe a couple of hours, he’d sent a message asking ‘Why did you unfriend me?’ which went into the Requests section of Messenger so I was able to ignore it. He then found one of my few public posts and left a comment that he was ‘genuinely concerned’ about me. I told him I was fine, thank you, and left it there. He promptly asked me again why I’d removed him.

      Before, I was merely indifferent about the guy; now, I found him creepy, so I hit the good old Block button and didn’t look back.

      Then the virus hit. Faced with a public health emergency, there was a selection of people who showed their true selves rather quickly. Some were spreading virus misinformation, either willingly or failing to check it; others jumped at every dog whistle in the news. In a few cases, I was figuratively screaming, ‘You literally don’t know you’re talking about.’

      And that’s how my no-nonsense policy started, so I made a decision to ignore all friend requests. There have been additions since, but they’re people I already knew or – in the above case – the event organiser, as he’d performed at my event a few weeks before.

      People are still welcome to find me on Twitter, but there should be no expectation of mutual following. However, the open-mike Twitter account is a different beast because it’s all about engaging poets, especially those with opinions, although I never read its feed.

      I did not expect this comment to be twice the length of the entry, but to add all this in would have been way off-topic. It might form a future entry.

      Liked by 1 person

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