How to Make Someone Leave You Alone Online

Jordan Brown

Personal space. Some of us want more of it than others.

I'm a person who really needs his personal space. And if another person keeps entering my space, I start to feel annoyed.

And personal space is not just physical space. It's also digital space.

There will be times when people will enter your digital space, whether it's via direct messages on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, or whether it's via email or text messages.

What do you do when this happens? What do you do when this happens again and again.

The conversation to get away is bound to be comfortable.

Or is it?

When Someone Won't Leave You Alone Online

Let's focus on the online version of this because most of us are currently forced to connect from a distance due to the coronavirus.

Online, anything goes. People say and do things they wouldn't normally do in "real" life.

When I tweet something, I have to consider that what I say can be interpreted in ways I could NEVER imagine. I have to consider that people might send me a direct message or an email. And this is fine for me. Truly. I like connecting, and I want people to feel comfortable reaching out.

But a conversation with a friend the other day made me realize that not all conversations are innocuous. Sometimes it's too much. This friend was dealing with someone who simply would not leave. her. alone.

So, what is a person to do when there's no obvious escape route?

Three Principles for Saying No

When there's no obvious escape route--and, in the digital world, this can often feel like the case--then you must remember a few fundamental principles.

The Fundamental Principles

You are allowed to say you don't want to talk anymore.

I'm still guilty of not being able to say no. I want to make people happy, so it's really hard for me to say no.

But saying no is a commitment to my mental health. If I never learned to say no, I wouldn't be where I am today. I would be a miserable bag of bones drifting away in a sea of other people's wishes and wants.

You can say no. You are allowed to choose yourself. When you say no to another person, you're not crushing their dreams. You're saying no to that particular interaction.

You don't have to give an elaborate reason for why you don't want to talk.

Here's a big one. I also felt I needed to justify my behavior when I said no to someone.

But good news, folks. It's not a thing.

You don't need to come up with an elaborate excuse. You don't need to weave a yarn about other plans or other people you need to talk to. Do that, and you're only asking for trouble. It gives the person pursuing you something to hang onto. It gives them a thread to continue to dangle from.

You can say you don't have time. You can say you don't want to talk anymore. You can say you're tired. Or sad. Or whatever honest feeling is in your body and mind at that very moment.

That's it. And then you can say you need to go.

Your mental health must come first.

Here's the big one. Your mental health is your operating system. It's your furnace. If you waste all your energy on a conversation that is not serving you, what then? What happens when you have to get back to your life and what you were doing before this person sent you the 24th message you didn't want to respond to?

Responding in a fake, halfhearted way is not being nice. It's doing a disservice because you're not being your authentic self.

Save your energy. Save it for situations in which you want to be your authentic self.

The world will get more from you that way, and you will give more to the world.