One of the things I love about my local community is how active the Telegram network is. I see this as both wonderful and full of potential pitfalls.
We have the opportunity to get to know each other really well and have split off groups for specific interests – foodies, gamers, littles, pets, crafters, poly people, kink-adjacent vending, an event hub, and more additional groups than are practical for me to name. People can join anything someone will link or add them to. It gives the opportunity for really great in-depth conversation on a topic, or link sharing for further reading. In many ways it has taken the place that Fetlife used to hold in my life. It is my link to the kink community.
I also see the negative aspects.
As much as I love my people individually, the possibility still exists for someone to be unnecessarily dogpiled. It can happen for any number of reasons, and the people who jump in to share often mean well. But to the person on the other end, it can feel pretty hurtful. The irony is that it usually seems to be in response to something offhand or lighthearted. The nuances of tone aren’t conveyed in text, and that can be a big part of some of those challenges. Additionally, even in what seems to be a pretty healthy kink community, people won’t always see eye to eye about details, or sometimes even generalities. It can be an age issue, or generational, or sometimes about past experience. We all have different stuff we draw from to base our conclusions upon, and those do not always mean we will agree, even when we can often find common ground.
Yet the issue that most concerns me is when people discuss their relationship problems. Maybe they are talking about a current partner, just venting a bit, or seeking advice from what they see as a safe space. Maybe they are hurting after a breakup and sharing a little too much. Maybe they are using those chatrooms to garner support for themselves over someone else they want to stay out of their space (heaven forbid they see that as it is – attempts to push someone else out of the kink community).
The question I ask myself becomes a study in nuance. Where is the line between someone sharing about a partner none of us know and trashing one everyone knows is or was attached to them?
Is it how visible the partner is? Or how visible they are as a couple? Or if one of them is particularly popular as a top or bottom or an educator? Is it the details shared? Is it the number of people they share to? Is it when they are talking about a former partner or meta who is also present in that chat? Is it when they are talking about someone who isn’t present? Where do we draw the line for when we see it as okay for people to share and when it is inappropriate?
I can tell you where I see that line. If I am in a room with more than one person I see as a close friend talking about something I haven’t yet discussed with my partner or partners, I have crossed it. Bouncing things off of one friend is a private conversation. Adding people to that makes it a public conversation, and any time that happens before someone talks to their partner about an issue is something that can hurt someone. I can’t imagine talking publicly about an issue with Daddy prior to bringing it up with Him. If he were to read about a problem I was having with him on Fet or Telegram, or in screenshots (because we all know that happens – don’t think someone won’t run and tattle), He would not only be hurt, he’d be upset with me for breaking his trust that way. Relationships are an exercise in trust. We trust one another to be honest, and if I’m bitching about him behind his back, I have clearly not been honest about my feelings about something.
If it’s about an ex, unless you are prepared to share in the most general and unidentifiable of ways or your exes are not part of the community, don’t do it in a public forum. It’s just tacky. Even then, best to just talk to a friend. We probably all know who the last person was you dated, and if we didn’t, someone will likely private message to make sure we do now. Don’t forget that the screenshot will be happily delivered to said ex, so they’ll know exactly how shitty you are, too. Plus that whole “if they talk about their exes like that, they’ll talk about me,” business, and believe me, even in a huge city, word gets around. Fast. Telephone, tellafriend, Telegram. It’s super speedy now. Maybe only seconds of delay. Eventually the only game in town will be to prey on the new folks, because no one else will come near the drama you promise any potential partners. There’s a huge difference between identifying a former partner with details or specifics and asking for general advice, such as posing a question about how others handle jealousy in their relationships and waiting for feedback. Those places are where I see the line, and may not be where others see it.
Which all leads to another question. Where do we draw the line as spectators? Is our responsibility to tell someone who is oversharing that they would be better off discussing that with the person directly? Or just sit uncomfortably and witness them whipping up the sympathy?
I don’t have the answers. I know what I’ve done in the past, and how I think people should conduct themselves, but I think when contemplating issues of what is right, what is the most ethical action, it is important for that to come not just from my sense of morality, but from the voices of others to help balance my more black and white views.
So I encourage others to think about these things and ask themselves how they feel about them. How would we all feel if we were having personal details of our relationships shared in public forums by partners or past partners without our knowlege or consent?
I don’t know many people who would enjoy that. I say, let’s all be the better people, and set a new standard of behavior, letting respect for others be our guide.
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