Five Problems of Social Media

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Social media can be fun, but as with all things in life, there's a downside.

It's the “Digital Age.” Just about everything is done online anymore. Since the inception of things like Facebook, Instagram, Myspace, other venues (I remember back when I was in my early 20s, and the internet was still fairly new, there was a forum I used to go on pretty frequently called wbs.net), it's brought people who are worlds away from our humble little homes right into our living rooms/dining rooms/wherever you access the internet. Everything's right at our fingertips these days. While this is good and fun and a great way to pass time (or in my situation, procrastinate! Ha ha), there is a downside.

Facebook being the most popular of social media outlets, seems to be a place to reach out to old friends, long-lost relatives, family that's in other places in the country (or in the world). It was how my husband and I found each other again back in 2008 after having not seen each other since the last day of school in 1992, the year he graduated. However, there's been people I've met that I'd rather never see again. People I've connected with through other ways but we've kept the most consistent contact through Facebook. For example, my ex. Those who know me well, know the situation with that. He has used Facebook as a means to reach out to me to start trouble. He's also used Facebook as a means to “keep in touch” because we were together for awhile back in 2011-12. The page you can find me on now, that's not my original page that I made in 2006. Reason being? I was pretty much chased off last summer. I won't go into the specifics, but it is what it is. I almost didn't come back, but Facebook is the only way I have to keep in touch with most of my relatives an is also the only venue I have to keep tabs on my daughter.

It leaves a propensity for stalkers. I've had my fair share, and I'm sure some of you who are reading this have experienced such, too. There is a reason I don't allow random people to just add me on a whim. There's also a reason I don't divulge much information about me specifically in the “about” section, or the pictures I have on my account of my face that can be shared publicly. I won't allow my image to be tagged by others. No matter HOW well-intended the tag is. There is a reason for that. Stalkers. The main one? My husband's ex. She has tried SO MANY TIMES to break us up in the going on 4 years we've been together. For the record, they were long broke up by the time he and I decided to give “us” another go, now that we're older and I'm no longer under my Mom's and the old man's roof and they can't dictate my life whom I can and cannot see. I'm not a teen anymore.

Myspace, during its heyday, was an interesting outlet for creatives, music nuts, art nuts, gif nuts. I met (and I'm still in touch with) at least a couple people on there that turned out to be pretty swell. One of my oldest friends (no longer a friend because of all the copious amounts of drama she started at the beginning of 2012) followed me over there, but she would make up new pages to send hateful messages about me to people. I always did suspect it was her, because of some of the things she'd mention, only SHE knew about. When confronted by me, she'd weasel out and not own up to what she did. I always remained very cautious when around her after that. She'd been doing it for years, but the latest attempt, she nailed herself to the wall and then I realized following the pattern back as far as 2005, I knew beyond any doubt it was definitely her.

Then there's the ever-popular “he-said-she-said” crap. When a couple has a falling out, for example, it tends to divide mutual acquaintances down the middle. It's ridiculous. It's like High School… but digital and 96% of the people on social media are adults – or supposed to be!

LiveJournal, a place that's sort of become a safe haven for me, has been around for a long, long time. Since dial-up was a thing, and the 56k modem was considered “top of the line.” LiveJournal, for those of you who don't know, is an online blogging website. I've had an account there since 2001. Other accounts over the years until 2005 when I created one to completely start over after a horrible breakup the year before. I wanted to start completely over. I created a new account on my daughter's fifth birthday, and it's probably the longest-running social media account I've ever had. It's gone through four name changes, at least 10 times I've had a paid-account status, several avatar changes, many updates to the profile page, and due to some trouble that was started by someone in 2014, I locked everything down from about October of 2014 on. When I met my now former neighbour, we were talking about social media, and I told her about LiveJournal. She was looking for an outlet for herself, and I told her how to sign up and all the ins and outs. I'm not one of those jerks that just tells someone about something and when asked what I know about it, I don't say, “Just click around, you'll figure it out.” I am a firm believer in TAKING THE TIME TO SHOW a new person what's what. It's courteous! Well, the more I hung out with her, the more nosy she got with her questions, and I didn't appreciate that, so I decided all the major things I'd written about since the October 2014 lockdown, I'd go through and lock them down even further before adding her, should she decide to make an account and add me. I don't like nosy people, and I don't like my privacy being pried.

That's another thing about social media, NOTHING is sacred it seems! I know, I'm just as guilty of sharing things that are best left alone. I don't do it on my new Facebook page like I used to on my old one. I've faced a LOT of things since last July ALONE that I don't talk about, a couple big ones not even my COUNSELOUR knows about. The only ones besides me that know, one's here and one's back home, and I'm not even divulging names. Privacy and all that. :)

If you're not careful with how you set up your passwords, your accounts can be easily hacked. Mine was almost hacked a few weeks ago. I've updated the password (it's a good idea to change your passwords on all your internet stuff every so often, anyway), and I've linked it to my phone so when I try to log in on certain things that I've been able to do this, I have to have my phone on me to be able to get the code to further complete the transaction of logging into my account. And my phone? Good luck trying to figure out the password on that. :P

I'm a huge stickler about privacy. I don't have my current city listed (mostly out of embarrassment), I don't have much of anything listed that Joe Q Public can see. You can see my employer (myself), you can see my school, my Facebook page URL, my religion, and in the about section, there's the following statement: "In a constant state of flux and evolution. Wife. Mother of three humans, three furries. Step-mother to two humans. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Hard-working. Creative. Wise. Caffeine addict. Paper addict. Photographer. Writer. Blogger." Other names, you can see I have listed "T Rea Harris," because I don't really want my first name broadcast. You can see my nickname. And my favourite quote. Under life events, you can see the year I opened Highland Lass Photography, the year I started working for myself, and the year I started school. The five featured photos are of my animals. You can also of course see my cover photos, but beyond the one profile picture I can't lock down, that's all can be seen. Of course likes, books, etc, all that you can see, but those are just random things I'm following, and that's it. Once I add you, yes, you can see the goings-on in my life, as well as a more detailed “about” section, etc. No, my current city still isn't listed (out of embarrassment), but my home town is.

At the very beginning of this topic, I mentioned procrastination. That's a big one. People sink more time and money into social media outlets than they do in pretty much any other healthy hobby. I've only paid for ONE thing on Facebook (and of course I've sunk money into LiveJournal), back when you had to pay to have an e-mail you sent someone you didn't have a connection with on Facebook, but you wanted your message to be seen. It cost $1 to do that, and I gladly paid that dollar to be able t reach out to my then-14 year old daughter to make sure she saw my message. She never did get around to writing me back, but I know she saw it. She's not ready for a conversation, and that's fine. There's a hoarde of games on Facebook (alone) that I know lots of people on my friends list play. I don't. I like Words with Friends, but that's about it. If you've noticed recently, most of my posts are about writing, pinterest stuff, random things I like and want to share, and of course the daily readings, meditations, and saints of the day. I muse “aloud” on there about things, but not the big stuff. The big stuff, I tend to keep fairly vague.

The other night, this gal that is a regular at my husband's work (he works at a grocery store), came in when we were standing in line waiting to check out. She came over and gave him a big hug and recognized me, but I didn't recognize her at first. She and my husband pointed out that the first time I'd seen her was several days ago, I'd commented on this really cool shirt she was wearing. We chatted up while the painfully long line wasn't budging, and toward the end of the conversation when it came time to part ways, she said, “Are you on Facebook?” When I answered in the affirmative, she asked if I play any of the games on there, stating she's a “Farmville Addict.” I don't understand Farmville. I remember ONE game way back in 07/08, that you could “plant” things and “tend to friends' gardens,” and chase of “animals” and whatnot, and I did that for awhile, but I lost interest when work got to be too busy and I had to focus on that. When things finally hit a quieter pace for me, I admit I was sad the game had been taken down. For the life of me, though, I can't remember what it was called.

Gaming is fun and it's great, but when there's other things to do – taking care of your household, making sure the kids are clean, fed, and doing their homework, paying attention to your spouse, pet care if you have pets, that sort of thing – those things should come first, and gaming should always be secondary or tertiary. Family first, then gaming, unless you're gaming together. :) I know for me, my problem is there's a LOT of neat writing blogs and groups on Facebook (latest obsession is the Bujo for Junkies one that I met a really cool gal in) and I get sucked into those. Another problem I have is the messenger on there. Which means I'm going to have Facebook in my face (no pun intended). Not that long ago, though, I found a work-around for that. I was noodling around on the Chrome store (I use Chrome) and I came across an app that I can use for Messenger WITHOUT having to open a tab specifically for Facebook. This way I can chit chat with people and still get stuff done, and NOT be sucked into the vast ups and downs of what I call “Social Media's Romper Room for Adults,” what you call Facebook.

I will sign off with one more issue: Over-sharing! I was SO guilty of doing this on my former page! SO guilty of it! I came to realize that no one really gives a rat's ass that my dog and my mailman got into a dispute over which is the better bacon: Applewood or Sizzlean. A joke, but I digress. The point is, there's sharing little tidbits of our lives, and saving the “juicy” stuff for private conversations, and then there's those wank stains that tend to use Facebook (or whatever other social media) as their personal platform for expose' stuff about who's sleeping with whom when whom is married and who doesn't care what's going on when who is gone and whom is left to whom's own devices. Or as aforementioned, the “he-said/she-said” crap. That can be a bit excessive, as well. Or that person who always has something to complain about, dragging everyone else down into the dregs with them. Or that person who's always complaining and NEVER has anything positive to say and you just get sick of hearing about it, so you just skip their posts completely. It's ridiculous. This site, when it started, I'm pretty sure wasn't intended to be a tell-all cauldron of gossip, but I don't know. My husband bought me “The Social Network” on DVD for Christmas last year, and I love it. The guy playing Zuckerberg is a bit irritating (he talks too fast, so I have to watch the movie with the captions on so I can understand what he's saying), but I'm always fascinated by human behaviour and how people come up with ideas that take off like wildfire.

The point here is, be careful what you share, nothing's ever private. Or deletable. Trust me. Once it's out there, it's out there forever. I'm serious. Put down your tin foil hats (yes, you, in the back, I see you going for the Reynold's Wrap, just leave it there. This isn't some kind of “the gov't can read your thoughts” b/s, this is real.), just listen carefully. Pictures of that time during Spring Break in Cancun? The ones you don't want your Great-Aunt Mabel to see?? Yeah, if you don't want her to see 'em, don't post 'em. Don't let your mates post 'em, either. Be careful what you put out there where you can be easily found by those you DON'T want to find you. There are always three (yes three) sides to every story: The side of each person (because it takes at least two to start an argument) and the truth. Procrastination is a thing, and it's what causes a LOT of trouble at home and the work place! And finally, no, we do not care how often you get laid, or how frequently you pee. Trust me, some things are just best left unshared.

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