New phone, who dis? These days, receiving a text from an unknown number has become something of a norm. Whether it's someone whose contact we're knowingly not saving, a pushy telemarketer who's trying their shot at direct message marketing, or that friend who's always changing their number, we usually know how to react to this kind of unsolicited text.
But how about when it's someone you met casually and never gave your contact info who, unbeknownst to you, put hours of time and research into tracking you down? It can go from innocently "random" to bonafide creepy within a matter of seconds.
That's what happened to @Lyndahx, who struck up a friendly conversation on the train with a stranger she never expected to see again.
In a thread she shared on Twitter, @Lyndahx posted the messages this guy sent her to ask if she was "overreacting by being creeped out" or if this was just the new norm among men who briefly meet a woman for the first time and don't "even exchange socials or anything."
It begins innocently enough, with this guy introducing himself as "Josh from the train." At least he's not pretending to be someone our protagonist and narrator knows better than that, I guess? But then he admits his got her number "from one of [her] friends" and probably notices this is a tad creepy because he's careful to add a thoughtful "hope u don't mind" at the end of his message.
I can kind of imagine a scenario in which I've met a friend's plus-1 at a party and we all hit it off so I asked my friend for their plus-1's contact info, say, so I can invite them to my next bash. But for a complete and random train stranger, this seems horridly out of left field.
Our narrator points this out when she writes that "tbh," aside from totally minding and being semi-distraught, receiving this text message is "kinda" (um, 100 percent) "creepy." She's so shaken, she doesn't even know where to begin. "Which of my friends gave you my number?" she tries first. Then, "wait, rewind," how did he even find her friends?
Remember, they've never exchanged numbers, contacts, or presumably anything other than first names.
Without an ounce of shame, the guy responds simply that he "searched" her on Instagram. I want to pause here for a second because I know a thing or two about searching for people on Instagram, as my job relies on it heavily. It's difficult enough to pin down someone whose full name and identifying information you know, let alone someone who's only given you a fraction of that to work with.
The stalker says she follows "some people I know," so he asked those people for her contact information. Short pause once again. If this guy was able to locate her on Instagram, which seems difficult enough, why didn't he just message her there? Why did he have to go all these steps to reveal himself as a bonafide creep?
Our narrator suggests as much, when she asks, "Don't you think it's less creepy to just follow me on Instagram instead of asking around for my number?" Literally, it might have been a bit creepy, but so many levels less distressing than this.
Instead of walking it back, the creep doubles down. Yeah, he says, he would have simply followed her on Instagram, except this woman is "not the type of girl" this guy DMs. "I only DM girls I wanna pipe," he admits. She's not one of these girls, she's one he wants to "get to know." EWWWWW!!!!
It feels like this guy has read a book or two about pick-up artists. They're horrible and I have no idea how they're published, distributed, or purchased by so many, but they advocate for men to be assertive and confident to the point of pushiness.
Our narrator is rendered speechless — which, same. So she returns to the initial question: "Who gave you my number?"
At this point, the guy goes from creep to stalker to alert-the-police-I'm-actually-terrified within a matter of instants. He tries to compromise with her, saying he'll tell her who gave him her number on Thursday. Why Thursday, you ask? Oh, because that's when he's taking her out!
How this man thinks he's taking this woman, who has shown zero sign of interest and many signs of being utterly skeeved out by him, OUT — ON A DATE — is in my honest opinion the true work of these pick-up artist manifestos he's probably been binging. That and obviously tons of unresolved childhood trauma which has never seen the light of therapy.
When the woman puts her foot down, saying she's "most definitely not" going out with this literal predator because she's "really not flattered" by his "weird and invasive" advances, he gets even more controlling. "Why u moving funny for," he asks first, in the fashion of a true serial killer.
Then he gives her an ultimatum. Either you go out with me and I'll tell you who gave me your number — but, let's be real, would he? — or you don't, and then you'll never find out. "That's the condition b. Take it or leave it," he writes.
By now, the woman is absolutely done texting with this guy. PSA to men: I hope you can see how this started out as creepy and ended up downright terrifying. Even if you're the nicest guy in the world, it's time to forget you ever read those pick-up books and started approaching dating from scratch.
Thinking that he'd found a fool-proof way to get this woman to go out with him and unable to take the rejection, he goes in for the personal attack.
"I can tell u never been treated properly," he says. Compelling... stalking a girl and not taking no for an answer is "properly"? Then he hits her with "it took me days to get ur number," as though she should be honored and flattered that he worked so hard to slide into her messages. To conclude, he sends the ever-classy "ur moving like I'm one stalker...u bitches man" before shooting off an angry emoji. Boy, byeeeeee!
Over on Twitter, people could not stress to this woman enough that she was NOT at all overreacting.
"On paper it's a romcom plot. IRL, it's how you end up on Investigation Discovery," wrote one person, humorously stating facts. Others sent choice screengrabs of their favorite contemporary stalker drama, Netflix's You.
Another person who used a screengrab of Gossip Girl's Dan to illustrate how terrifying her situation was IRL, wrote "Make sure your curtains are closed sis! And have your security on lock. I have a feeling he didn't get the number from a friend..."
This, understandably, terrified our narrator, who replied, "Please don’t be saying stuff like that. I will never sleep again." Guys, let's keep this feedback constructive.
Another who mentioned she's not at all overreacting cited the same pick-up artist guides I mentioned up top. "Creepy CONTROLLING Stalker Guy reads like all kinds of bad news. And like he's been reading the rapey-er Pick Up Artist guides," they write.
"He said 'days to get your number' as if you should be impressed and thankful by that work ethic," added another on the platform.
Honestly, unbelievable (but also not?) that people like this exist. Ladies, be safe out there.