Saturday, October 4, 2014

Harassment For Pictures On Internet Dating Sites


There are many reasons why men go to virtual dating sites; some are looking for love, others are looking for sex, there are those who simply desire to have conversation while some are simply bored having no objective other than the passing of surplus time.  There is another breed of men whose primary mission is the collection of photographic images of other people; I have always referenced these men as “Pic-Hounds”.   Whether or not the label I crafted to identify this population of online image foragers is legitimate or not is in fact not the primary topic of this discussion rather it is whether their habit, passion or obsession with the collection of the images of others is a problem that requires a cure or merely another common dynamic of human character.   The scales may tip in either direction; some argue that virtual dating and social media is a highly visual milieu and that pictures are essential to make up for what the displacements of time, distance and opportunity cannot afford.  Others argue that they have a right to maintain a visually anonymity online and that providing the basics in writing, which may include their physical attributes, likes and dislikes and other personal data should be sufficient to carry an initial conversation that may find a vibe for further exploration perhaps even offline. 

If only those irritating Pic-Hounds could just read or use common sense, right?  How dare them demand photographs of anyone in an impersonal, online context, especially photographs of a more private nature, what gives them the right especially if the person they are conversing with clearly does not have any posted for public view.  Well I am not wholly sure there is anything wrong with asking for pictures at all, there is certainly no harm in anyone wanting to see the person they are engaging in a virtual conversation, especially after the conversation has moved from a casual introduction to a more elevated form of communication.  At some point it is only natural for a person to want to verify if the the physical attributes advertised on another person’s profile are legitimate, right?  Well, there are always at least two sides to every story and who says that good sense is common anyway? Personally I do not think it has anything to do with common sense at all, rather, it has everything to do with the fact that these men whom we romantically call “Pic-Hounds” do clearly have a fetish of some kind for photographs of attractive people in general which may be expressed in any number of variations from pornography, muscle shots or just face and body images; every fetish serves a different desire.  There is certainly no harm in having a picture fetish as long as the images are socially ethical and by this I mean that the pictures are not child pornography or some other clearly socially aberrant genre of imaging.  It is when the Pic-Hounds begin to aggressively harass the objects of their desire that the problems begin, that is the clear threshold when they officially graduate from just another virtual beau to a dyed-in-the-wool “Pic-Hound”.  Some of my readers have mentioned their online acquaintances have demanded pictures of genitalia or of their derriere as a first form of communication.  Others have shared that they receive random demands for pictures long after they have declined them prompting them to block the requestor as a permanent solution to being hounded.  This begs the most obvious question, “What drives a Pic-Hound”?

So far I have not opined on the innate, nature of the Pic-hound or disclosed his innermost passions and obsessions.  I am however equipped  to access the home of the Pic-Hounds passion in the same way I am capable of relating to the way any man is driven to pursue something he craves or which brings him great pleasure whether or not it is erotic or sensual in nature.  For example, the way men crave money and power is not so very different from the way they crave sex and therefore similar to the way they crave photos of attractive people; a passion is a passion.  One might even go further to classify Pic-Hounds as “Collectors or Connoisseurs’”.  Collectors and connoisseurs are persistent and tenacious when it comes to the procurement of the things they most admire and so it goes with our Pic-Hounds which I can easily classify with our automobile, cigar, art, wine or antiques collectors.  I noticed this trend whilst visiting an associate of mine and spying their computer screen saver which was literally burgeoning with an inexorable pageant consisting of images of bodies, bodies, bodies, none of whom they actually knew but of course  that was not the point …  At that instant I realized there is no difference between the good old days when a man might have posted paper pin-ups of gorgeous women in his locker at work and today when he might post virtual images of men or women whom he finds aesthetically pleasing on his home screen; technology is the only thing that has really changed.

So this brings us full circle to the burning question, “How do you take the Hound out of our “Genus-Pic-Hound””?  Is it even possible, plausible or advisable?  Doubtless, the pic hound is a virtual social media irritant to us all but we must still argue for his right to pursue his passions!  Many of us have taken our good and valuable time crafting our own online profiles even including disclaimers intended to warn Pic-Hounds not to ask us for pictures but the reality is that, that may be all we can really do!  Outside of blocking the Pic-Hound from access to our profiles we really have no viable tool for reforming his behavior.  It may not be our place to reform the Pic-Hound or teach him proper online manners.  A Pic-Hound is free to break all the rules of gentlemanly, courteous, polite, social engagement; he may ask you or I for a pic, any kind of pic.  So the way to manage the Pic-Hound is not necessarily by attempting to teach him a lesson he will more than likely never learn but rather it is to discover a gentlemanly means by which to dispense with him when he comes begging at our door.  Personally I do not think there is any real cure nor perhaps should there be. Dispense with the Pic-Hound when he begins to harass you as efficiently and decisively as you would any other pest.  My advice is not to give these pests any more energy than they deserve but as a gentleman remain polite.  The first time they beg for pictures politely advise them that you will not under any circumstances send them pictures and clearly state your rules.  If you are the kind of person who has to meet face to face let this be known and remain firm!  If the Pic-Hound ignores your good intentions and persists to harass you for pictures then he will certainly get what he deserves,
 Which could range from a polite and firm rebuttal to a blocking. 

There are some instances when it is more difficult to manage the Pic-Hound with a distant and antiseptic text or blocking as in the case when he lives with you or is in a very serious relationship with you, when he is married to you or is otherwise intimately woven into your life.  I have encountered friends who married or became intimately involved with men they later discovered to be Pic-Hounds long into the relationship.  Again, if managed and pursued in a healthy manner there should be no real threat.  A man who is enamored of and has a fetish for pictures is not a villain and a Pic-Hound is typically but not always interested in collecting  pics and not in any physical connection with the subject but always be wary of exceptions.  If you find your partner is a potential Pic-Hound you certainly should confront him and discuss it at length taking into consideration the possibility that you are not being told the entire truth behind what is often a very personal and private passion/obsession.  This intimidates many people because it brings to light a hidden dimension of a person they love and had thought they knew much better.  They fear there may be more to the secret that has been kept from them when there may be nothing to fear at all.  In many cases it is the vivid and undocumented imagination of the person who discovers their partner’s picture fetish that causes what might otherwise have been a normal relationship to crumble.  In many cases the warning signs of a picture fetish are quite evident if one’s eyes are really opened.   Because most Pic-Hounds are harmless nuisances and because men with picture fetishes are mostly just collectors of images I would approach their passion with caution but not prematurely end what may otherwise be a perfectly fine relationship without giving the matter much careful thought and opening the topic up for discussion.  Remember that you must respect the right of your partner to maintain his privacy even within the context of your relationship to keep your healthy distances from one another.  Only you know how far is too far for comfort.   

Those of you who are becoming newly acquainted with anyone who might potentially be a Pic-Hound or picture collector and have not actually developed a tactile or stable relationship should gather your common sense and search your soul about what your true objectives are.  The truth of the matter is that most Pic-Hounds are not really interested in chatting or cultivating any kind of relationship unless it involves the provision of pictures.  That is what is driving them; more and more and more and more pictures from you and anyone else they fancy.  So if you are looking for a mate to cultivate a serious long-term relationship you have to be honest about your ability to be accepting of your partner’s fetish.  You must also upon accepting it understand the potential for it to move beyond the purely figurative to manifest itself in the objective domain.   If it is not your intent to deal with this variable of the human personality spectrum my advice is to simply inform them that you are not comfortable with their fetish and quietly move on. 

There is not cure-all for the human character most assuredly because quite often there is no real flaw to be cured.  We are what we are!  Humans are prone to demonize that which they do not understand or agree with but this does not make their dislike of any particular facet of human nature legitimate and it certainly does not mean that anything is bad or evil, immoral or unethical or psychotic.  We have to learn to separate our personal values from our expectations of others who are not bound by the same set of values we hold for ourselves.  We must be tolerant even when our emotions are stronger in the other direction.  We can live under the illusion that our lives are always an example for others but reality dictates otherwise.  Nobody is bound to our core values outside ourselves and even we are free to abandon them at will.  Men may choose to ignore the lives and examples of other men or they might not even be aware they exist! Life is an inescapably complex series of judgments,  mature men understand the fundamental role of judgement in effective human socialization; personal judgement must be both passionately embraced and  objectively scrutinized so that it can be administered on a level that respects the interests of everyone.  We should be asking ourselves is there a cure for misunderstanding, bias and prejudice instead of whether there is a cure for Pic-Hounds or any other human personality trait for which we have a personal distaste…



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