Think that Charlotte Proudman complimenting a man on Facebook is hypocritical? I feel for you

Before the internet were men like Alexander Carter-Silk posting lonely hearts ads in the jobs sections of newspapers?

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The Independent Online

If you thought the cheek of the "Feminazi" lawyer Charlotte Proudman knew some bounds, you were wrong. It turns out that it knows no bounds. Not a single bound at all. For not only is she a trained barrister, but also a hypocrite.

On Monday, a senior law firm partner called Alexander Carter-Silk thought that her invitation to connect with him on LinkedIn was an invitation for him to pass comment on her looks. With the typing ability of someone using only one hand, he wrote: "Charlotte, delighted to connect, I appreciate this is probably horrendously incorrect but that is a stunning picture!!! You definitely win the prize for the best Linked in picture I have ever seen. Always interest to understant people's skills and how we might work together." She then posted a screenshot of his message and her admonishing reply on Twitter. This stand of hers was mostly met with praise, although now she probably wishes she had thought twice. Because, wait for it, the Daily Mail then revealed that on she has complimented (or "ogled") some of her male friends on Facebook over the last two years.

I'm actually Facebook friends with one of the reporters who wrote the Mail's story. What the piece seems to imply is that Proudman's Facebook comments made her public shaming of Carter-Silk hypocritical. Under this logic, Facebook and LinkedIn are really the same thing. Taking this into account, I was tempted to send him a message, asking if he'd like to go on my Facebook profile and endorse me for some of my professional skills. But I realised that he was probably too busy trying to find more examples of women complimenting men on Facebook, so I left it.

I feel sorry for anyone who doesn't know the difference between a Facebook friend and a LinkedIn connection. It's right there in the terms "friend" and "connection". If someone asked you what you were doing at the weekend, would you say "Oh you know, probably just kicking back and hanging out with some close connections of mine"?

The world of social media must be a very confusing, lonely place for anyone who thinks the two sites are the same. You can imagine their bemusement when they post things on LinkedIn. "Why is no-one liking my photo on the beach with the boys, where our thigh muscles are bulging out our shorts, with the caption #QuadGoals? Also, zero likes on my latest "FUCK YOU CAMERON" status? What's going on??" Likewise, Facebook must be a real head-scratcher for those who have accused Proudman of hypocrisy. It would be hard for anyone not to feel crestfallen when their friend requests to managers they want to work for go unaccepted.

With so many social media sites and apps to choose from, it can be tricky to gauge what's appropriate for each one. But what's obvious is that you shouldn't treat LinkedIn connections like close friends on Facebook or matches on Tinder. You don't even need to be up to date with modern technology to know this – before the internet were men like Alexander Carter-Silk posting lonely hearts ads in the jobs sections of newspapers?

Some women have also criticised Proudman, and said that they appreciate unsolicited compliments. This is fine, but doesn't discount the fact that there are plenty of women who don't. And if you're a man sitting in front of his computer screen, thinking about sending a leery, garbled message to a woman you've never met, how are you supposed to know which camp she falls in?Is it really worth the risk? And if you're doing it in a professional capacity, do you know how bad that could look? Or is? And how neatly it fits into the wider reality of casual and not-so-casual gender discrimination in the workplace?

It's also easy to forget that behind each profile photo is an actual person. Would Carter-Silk have said the same thing to Proudman at a professional networking event for lawyers? If he had, I would have loved to have heard him say "Always interest to understant" out loud.

Everyone likes compliments. But people also love context. And if you don't want to be accused of sexism, you should at least try considering it.