One aspect of the online community that surprises me is how inclined to trust other people’s motives we can be at times. I know of no one who would publish their Social Security number, credit/debit card number, or bank account information online. Ahhh,  but we are quick to offer our friendship to others and truthfully, in doing so, can sometimes be lulled into a false sense of security with that person. Do we inadvertantly give more information about ourselves than is safe when we do so?

The first time I ever disclosed my full name was when I joined Twitter. I saw no harm in it since my last name is a common one in this area, plus there are 5 others with the same name here. I am apparently the only one with an online presense since no one has ever contacted me claiming to know who I am. Even knowing all that, the first time a fellow Twitter member used my first name in a tweet, my reaction was to question myself as to whether or not I’d done the right thing.  Having had an experience with someone online who was a master manipulator of peoples emotions in a negative way, I should have thought my action through much more carefully.

Sometimes, who we are as people isn’t evident through our writing. Online, that is the only way we have of deciding whether we wish to befriend another blogger on any level. No matter how good we believe we are at reading between the lines, someone is always better at creating those lines. Manipulating the emotions of others is an easy thing to do, for awhile. Eventually the manipulator will overplay their hand and the truth comes crashing down on them. Unfortunately, it crashes down onto the people who cared about them as well. Usually, the only one who really cares about the loss of trust is the person experiencing that loss. The manipulator goes on to another group of people and continues with their habit without a care in the world. “It’s the internet” they say, “don’t take it seriously.” They appear to believe the information superhighway is a fantasy world in which people should have no emotions.

I suppose that what happens online is not as serious as a heart attack, however, no one really knows what the person behind the other screen is dealing with in their lives. Stressful events like death, the break up of a long term relationship, even the birth of a new child can make people emotionally vulnerable to someone inclined to manipulate.  Even when most people we encounter are honest in nature, that one bad experience can seriously harm our other online relationships. It can even cause people to stop communicating with others online.

Ultimately we can only be responsible for our own behavior. I’ve been on the receiving end of one of those master manipulators at least once. I learned that I needed to be more careful about extending trust to people I meet online. I also didn’t allow it to interfere in my enjoyment of meeting new people. I am more wary, but always respectful and kind. The shame doesn’t belong to those who were fooled, it belongs squarely on those who intentionally try to fool us. Sadly, there are plenty of that kind out there. Whether they do so for attention, or in the hopes of financial gain somehow, only they know. I don’t need to know why someone does that kind of thing, I only need to be aware that it can happen and protect myself accordingly.

By Butterose

Smart assed step-mother of 3, grandmother of 3. Insane enough to have lived with Hubby for 24 years now. What can I say, I liked his kids? We share our lives with family and our cat.

5 thoughts on “The Downside Of Social Media”
  1. You’d be surprised what she left in my shoutbox. My first stalker. 😀 Good thing she finally came to her senses, maybe she was drunk or something, but it was over by the next day.

    Yeh, the guy should have just gave it up, and came clean.

    “A good dose of healthy skepticism never hurts.”

    Words to live by! 😀

  2. I do know who you’re talking about. I saw some of the responses and complaints to others about you. 😀

    The original person who exposed the fake started a rather cryptic thread that said I have it figured out, take care of it or I’ll expose you. Not exactly like that but that was the gist of the situation. She gave him a full 24 hours without naming names. The thread was rather interesting since other people commenting kept asking who it was or asking if it was so and so. That thread was removed by the boss.

    During the time of waiting, the fake did nothing more than email others threatening suicide. At no point did the fake fess up and apologize. How he dealt with it left a very bad taste in a lot of mouths. Makes me wonder about his sanity. Nothing he did, during the time she was giving him to straighten the situation out makes any sense. Normal people know when the jigs up, he just didn’t seem to.

    When I read a blog these days I pay attention and if I’m not comfortable with what I’m reading, I don’t leave comments. A good dose of healthy skepticism never hurts.

  3. Thankfully I haven’t experienced that…yet. 😀 However there was a person ( who shall remain nameless ) that I tried to help who then stalked me for the rest of the night like a nutbar. All I did was visit her site to check out her artwork and noticed that the code in her portfolio page was broken and mentioned it to her. And instead of thanking me she decided I must be criticizing her and took offense at the very fact I would even bring it to her attention.
    After trying on three occasions to be nice and explain to her that I was just trying to help I finally got fed up and told her what I thought of the artwork I saw…in a word crap…and it was crap ( I never brought up her artwork til that moment ).
    Then she stalked my posts for the rest of the night leaving inane comments. 😀

  4. More personal experience than the “other” issue. As I was reading about that issue I couldn’t help but compare it to the 3 I experienced at the site I blog on.

    The two women that suddenly became deathly ill through totally ludicrous means I caught onto right away and had to stand by helplessly and watch them catch others in their nets. The third wasn’t so easy because she really did her research and exhibited classic OCD symptoms. She was downright scary after awhile.

    She hatched so many other blog personnas that did nothing but fight with her that most of us finally caught on. Unfortunately she had grabbed me with an accusation against someone of plagiarism prior to that happening.

    She had given a friend who also blogged a poem she may have written. The friend posted it in the middle of a fake blog war they were having, of course, we didn’t know it was fake. She sent me the link to her own poem on Author’s Den and that made me check into other things the friend had posted. All of it was plagiarized, so I said something. I told her friend that she needed to start crediting the authors of the work she posted. What a mess I found myself in the middle of. NEVER again! 😀

  5. Another great article Butterose 😀 I’m assuming this is from both personal experience as you mentioned, and maybe a bit about the recent chaos over at an un-named forum? 😉

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