Image: Shamani Joshi
At some point in our online lives, most of us have gotten an unsolicited message—be it from our friendly neighbourhood @coolkid420, a stranger menacingly sliding into our DMs with the classic ‘send bobs’, a random bot adding us to an escort-service group or just some thirsty dude trying to “make fraanships” with you. While sometimes desperate, disgusting or downright hilarious—making you wonder who are these people who think propositioning a stranger can ever be a good idea—these messages can also be creepy as hell. And what's worse is that online anonymity and the option to retract or delete messages which erase all evidence means that these creeps can quite easily get away with it.
Not only can such messages be super damaging to our self-esteem and sense of privacy, but they also often involve casual stalking, obscenity and harassment, making it all the worse. Unfortunately, because this is way more common than we'd like to believe, we asked around to see just how weird these messages can get. This is what we were told:“I put up a selfie on my Instagram that had some of my cleavage showing. Then, this guy I don’t even know, sent me a photo of a drawing he had made recreating my selfie. Except, while he only drew the outline of my face and didn’t add any of my features, he graphically sketched my boobs and then had the audacity to say, ‘Ma’am please accept this gift from me’.” - Pallavi, 22“This random dude once asked me if I sold my used panties, saying he really wanted to buy one and would pay any price for it. It was beyond me how someone could be so disgusting and actually type that out.” - Apoorva, 22"I got a WhatsApp message from an unknown number offering me a male sex slave. At first, I thought I was being pranked, so I played along but the person was persistent I buy one of his slaves, and even sent me pictures in a failed attempt to try and tempt me. When I asked him how he got my number, he said he was randomly messaging numbers. I then sarcastically scolded him for his terrible audience-identifying, pitching and sales skills and that shut him up." - Agastya, 21
“After I finished playing a piano concert, I got this message from a guy who said he saw my performance from backstage and thought my ass looked great. Fucking weirdo.” - Supriya, 22“A guy randomly texted me after I put up a picture, saying: It looks like you really like looking at the sun go down, so you will really enjoy looking at me go down on you.” - Tanvi, 22“I got many unsolicited dick pics from this random guy. He sent me more than 20 different angles of his dick.” - Natasha, 25“I’ve been added by someone I don’t know to these sex groups at least eight times. Most of them have around 30 people in the group and sometimes, the main account that added me to the group will send links and ask us to tap on the link for their nudes.” - Nihal, 23“I was just about to fly out of town when I got this DM on my Instagram from a guy I didn’t know saying he had seen me at the airport and recognised me. It sent a shiver down my spine.” - Simran, 23“Back in high school, I skipped tuitions one day. Then I randomly got a message from this guy who asked me why I didn’t come that day. I asked him who he was and he told me he lived on the same street where my tuitions were held and that he would watch me every day.” - Shivi, 22“When I was 22, a random message popped up on my Facebook from a guy I didn’t even know after I posted a picture in this backless black dress I had just bought. He told me I was being a total online slut for exposing my back for the sake of comments. He asked if I was desperate for old men and perverts to masturbate to my pictures and then asked where my parents were. It affected me quite a bit back then and even made me cry. Of course, now I know how messed up it was for me to get affected by his unnecessary, unwelcome opinion.” - Neha, 28“I matched with a guy on a dating app but had to travel for work around the time we started chatting, so hadn’t yet met him IRL. We instantly clicked and became obsessed with chatting with each other but one morning, I woke up to around 15 missed calls from him and then a photograph of him having written my name on a piece of paper. In blood.” - Kejal, 31"Some creep once texted me saying: 'You have pretty eyes ya. You know why I texted you this? Because behind your eyes there is some kind of sadness or pain and the best thing is that no one can look at it, only I can'. Then he propositioned that I should let him fuck my gloom away." - Arpita, 35Follow Shamani Joshi on Instagram.