Over the past decade since social media became a part of our daily lives, platforms like Twitter have evolved and fragmented, allowing a variety of niche communities to thrive around shared experiences and interests. But no matter which corner of the internet you’re calling home on, there’s something half the online population is all too familiar with: the Reply Guy.
What is an answer type?
This is a phenomenon that only occurs among women on the Internet. Regardless of what she says in a tweet or a caption, there’s a pretty good chance a man will comment on it. Over time, she might find that the same guy is in her mentions all the time, giving the distinct impression that he̵
For some women, answer men are a harmless nuisance. For others, the constant inundation of comments on every post costs valuable time, attention, and energy.
“Some are nice and supportive,” says Natalie, “and some respond to every tweet with some kind of innuendo and it’s exhausting.” Sophie believes that response guys are “mostly just annoying” and have a “mute and block” approach to dealing with them.
Not everyone sees the respondents negatively. “I understand why people find it so off-putting, I just see it as people wanting to chat, and it doesn’t hurt if they don’t exceed,” says Madeleine. “But mine are pretty good. The worst I can get from them is trying to explain something that I understand very clearly.”
In far too many cases, these answers (no doubt written with the intention of being funny or flirtatious) border on harassment. And just like in the real world, the woman who controls these interactions is with a man who she does not know that the social burden is based on her to avoid injuries his Feelings for fear of escalating the situation and possibly even risking their own safety.
“Answer guys make me uncomfortable,” says Katie. “Even if the answers themselves are harmless, they make you fear what they might lead to. Are they going to ask you to take down IRL and then you have to refuse? And then, for fear of that, you have to be almost mathematical about how much.” You decide to deal with them! And that costs energy. “
She is not alone. “If I don’t deal with them and they keep doing it? That starts to cross a line. Superfamily in my answers will mute you,” says Hayley. “I also almost always prefer to mute unless there is a serious problem. My tweets are public anyway. I always worry about blocking a man who uses this rejection as a means to get around me harassing elsewhere. I keep thinking about how to minimize the risk. “
The respondent could be interpreted as an evolutionary offshoot of the internet disinhibition effect, in which individuals feel encouraged to say things in online conversation that social conventions may prohibit in real life. And as you can expect from a scenario where a man feels entitled to tell a woman what he wants without fear of the consequences, the results can be quite annoying to the recipient.
“A man once sent me 10 tweets / DMs within an hour (to which I never replied, let alone followed) and insulted me ugly and repeatedly for daring to tweet that I didn’t like a certain film . ” says Laura. “He didn’t even follow me, he just must have been looking for people to argue with.”
Whether it’s an influx of comments from the same man or replies from multiple accounts, the response-type effect can be cumulative – to the point where it affects the recipients’ own social media habits affects and even prevents them from using a particular platform at all. “It’s like a mosquito bite is fine,” says Clemence, “but if you get bitten 10-15 mosquitoes every time you go outside, you may go out a little less if not strictly necessary is. “
How do men avoid becoming the feared answerer online? First and foremost, it’s about intent. What are you hoping for this answer? Are you trying to force engagement out of a dead end? Is it possible for you to mansplaining to score points for your own ego? And if that’s the case, isn’t it worth questioning this motivation?
Ask yourself what you are indeed Get out of this interaction and when it’s worth your own time and energy. If you’re doing it to boost your self-esteem, will it work beyond the second you have this random woman’s attention? If not, consider spending your time on another activity. Like therapy.
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