Stalking, IM style

People who use instant messenger services occasionally receive chat requests from people they don't have on their buddy list. Usually these messages are from random people or lost friends and mean no harm. Every once in awhile, though, a message will pop up from your IM stalker.

First off, an IM stalker is hardly dangerous. Sure, one can be a nuisance, but realistically, the person isn't going to show up at your house or place of business. Well, unless your stalker IS someone from work or a family member. Then again, the longer the person attempts to IM you, the more annoying it becomes. Here are a couple of simple ways to lose the cyberstalker.

1. Always show you're away: As long as your friends know that you are doing this, they will still message you. If the person in question messages you, you can just ignore him/her for a period of time. But if that person continues to send messages ...

2. Politely tell the person you are busy and don't have time to talk: The problem with the first step is the person might get the idea that you aren't ignoring him/her but might have a problem with the IM service, you are always away but logged in, you lost both hands and can't type, etc. Most stalkers are sensible enough to understand a simple message saying you are busy, and if you aren't busy, you will seek that person out with a message or email. This should almost always work, but just in case ...

3. Change your screen name: This sucks, but the stalker goes away. You have to let your friends know the new name, though. If the stalker finds your screen name again ...

4. Just ignore the person: You tried, so that's all you can do.

Good luck!