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After a small confused conversation with a fellow tweeter a couple of days ago, I was hurled back into my insecure on the Internet space. There is nothing wrong in that as I find myself here regularly.
I love blogging, and I love tweeting. Actually, I just love the Internet, but I also know there is a dark side to the light and fluffy uses that I tend to spend most of my time reading and acting on. Yes, I know I occasionally leave myself wide open to huge criticism when I post some controversial content, but that is freedom of speech isn’t it?
Do we have freedom of speech? We are supposed to have it, but we don’t in reality. We can’t say negative things, we can make a fool of anyone and we can’t use some perfectly good nouns and adjectives in case we offend whichever part of society has decided to take offence at a new word or gesture.
I have over 3500 followers on Twitter and several hundred directly subscribed to my blog through the different ways that they can get access to my
When we talk to each other, how do you know it’s me? How do I know you are you?
In truth, we don’t.
We have to trust.
Should we trust?
I have trusted.
I have met many Tweeters and Bloggers now. I went all the way down to London to meet a massive group of women that I have spent hours talking to on the Internet.
Am I more comfortable with my Internet followers? Yes I am.
I have only met 5 Tweeters from Aberdeen. I know of a few who are acquainted with those 5.
Do I still worry – yes.
Should we still worry? I don’t know.
We trust that when we go onto the Internet, that the 32 year old woman with two children who is struggling to get by is real, and is not actually a sleazebag tweeting / commenting from a dingy basement in disguise.
Social Media is addictive, and thinking about the possibilities that my information, pictures and
stories life could get me into does at times give me pangs of panic. Then at times, I think I should just pack it all in and stay safe in my cocooned world around my family and blot out the world.
Then I begin to think of the good that social media does, and how charities that are suffering manage to secure the necessary funding they are short of.
I see acts of compassion and kindness.
I see people I have never met asking about someone who is struggling to get by and giving an ear to help out.
I remember the time that we got pulled along by charities to install water pumps in Africa.
I remember how there is always someone to share a worry with, or talk over an issue, or boast about something fabulous that we’ve seen, heard or done.
Sometimes the potential makes me feel sick.
Pre-children, I doubt it would have had the potential to make me feel sick.
Sometimes the potential makes me look on in awe.
We look out for each other.
Sometimes a troll wanders in.
We survive, we move on, and we grow.
26 thoughts on “Are we who we say we are?”
I try to remain as anonymous as I can online. I moderate on a large forum, and maintain the same rules on there (although I have made some wonderful friends from it once I’d made sure they weren’t raging stalker). It is worrying how much people post online – I had to help one girl who had posted her babies very unusual name, meaning any time it was googled it led to some very personal posts that anyone could access.
We see a huge amount of trolls on the forum, and it’s rather depressing – why anyone could get pleasure out of duping people who are genuinely caring is beyond me
Just to echo what a lot of the others have said, i too worry about who is out there , reading adn it does scare me but I like to think I have good boundaries and intuition. However, intuition isnt always right but i make sure that I don’t let my guard down too much and try to enjoy it for what it is. i remember reading about a “mother” who had put on a parenting forum that one child was very ill and nearly at deaths door, she was getting a lot of attention and people were sending her flowers, ect as you would because people care. But some members had put two and two together and the person was found to be lying. I dont believe the woman in question was gettng monetary gifts , i think it was more about attention and her own lonliness. i think it highights a lot of mental health issues in our society as well.
i dont remember the point of what i was trying to say apart from I enjoyed reading your blog post and yeah, we always need to be vigilant.
When twitter started out, and I used a different account, there was a cancer sufferer who pulled the wool over hundreds of peoples eyes. It was only when a celeb decided to meet them to show some support, that they were outed as a fake. They seem to pop up a lot, and it is hard to tell the real ones from the fake ones for us as adults, so how hard would it be for kids? The Internet is both scary and awesome.
Everyone is always so lovely that sometimes I forget to worry.
I find myself doing that sometimes as well. Then someone says something that reminds me again. Thankfully I get reminded often enough to keep semi-anonymity up.
You don’t mention the anonymity thing, which exercises me a lot – most of my internet friends use their real names and more and more they are using the real names of their kids. I’m nervous about this, I don’t like the idea that random people could track me down and find out where I live. Yet I have only had to block one blogger on twitter for unsavoury comments and I have a new circle of friends thanks to FB and Twitter which is vital when you are recently separated. And as a carer I’m stuck at home so much and I would be climbing the walls if I didn’t have the chance to chat to people here x
The anonymity thing is the big one. There are so many anonymous people on the Internet. There are some people who know me in RL and the blog, but actually a very few, and most of those are ones I have worked with over the last year or two online.
How anonymous any of us are depends on who is reading and what we write about. We all give away little things that points us out to those who really want to find out, but it is scary. I don’t use my kids real names, and it worries we when I see people who do, but that is their choice.
I have a few ideas for upping my freelance work, and a fabulous one I wanted to move forward for helping charities, but I can’t go ahead with any of them as at the moment as I won’t give out my home address for it to happen and move forward and respectable virtual office addresses are out of my budget.
I wish I had had Twitter or Facebook when I first adopted the boys, although my preference is towards Twitter, I have to say. I definitely would not have felt so useless and out of my depth. I’m happy it is helping you get through and having the ability to talk real people should never be underestimated.
In my Twitter time alone, I have seen 3 people who were at the point of suicidal who were helped. It’s not from my scottish mum account, but from one I had much earlier in the twitter world. One of those people was found by her local police when only her Twitter username was given out. It helped that she was from a small village where the description of who she was from what had been posted on Twitter was decipherable easily.
I have had a few trolls in my time now. They do make me take stock of how public I should be going. As parent bloggers, we give out a lot of family information and we have to be comfortable with how much we give out to strangers, which is what we do every time we post things. I began completely anonymous. I am now semi anonymous and I am happy with that for the moment, but I will never post my kids names online.
Nice post. I trust just as I do and have always done on the outside. Do I find that sometimes people let you down? sure I do. Do I pause and think “never again”? Yes but only for a moment. If we let go of trust we are building a miserable existence for ourselves, our families and our communities. Do I exclude my children from the full house experience of the internet? No, there is no Net Nanny either software or parental in our house, but my children have always known to ask if anything concerns or worries them online or in their “real world” lives.
I do have parental controls for the kids, but mainly because I have a special needs child who I don’t want coming across some inappropriate content by mistake.
Trust is harder to give and receive on the Internet, but does get easier as we find people and situations in common I think. At the same time, we still have to remain cautious and sensible.
I love the internet, and the bloggers and twitter. They support, give advice and draw a smile to my face when no one else can. Some blogs I read are utterly heartfelt and make my little problems in life look like nothing. They give me perspective.
It’s definitely a game of trust, and good character, but ultimately, if they make you feel better, does it matter if they tell a few fibs?
It’s good when the experiences have been positive. Bloggers can be very lovely and supportive. I am always amazed when people think that our hobby is so geeky and don’t understand how we build up online friendships with people we’ve never met.
I must admit I “trust” I have found some amazing friends on Twitter – some I have met up with and have found real friendship.
But I agree the “freedom of speech” is not so accepted – I can’t believe some of the tweets I see getting at someone with a view – we are all different and we have different opinions and should be allowe to voice these – we just have to agree to disagree on some things. But there are a lot of people out there that only have one view – their own!
I’m glad that I have trusted some online people. For such an insular bunch that people would expect of those of us who use the Interrnet so much, we sure can yak plenty when we meet.
I have to say I love the internet. I’m a nosey person so peeking into the slice of life people open to us is fascinating. I took a great leap of internet faith when i decided to meet up with an internet friend who lived the other end of the country. My story says sometimes knowing when to drop your guard is a good thing as Neil and I have now been married almost 10 years and have 2 amazing boys.x
Hey u. I never knew that about you two. You 2 are 2 of the 5, now 6 with the sand art lady. What a lovely story. No wonder you love the Internet.
It’s why I don’t tweet any more, although I have started blogging. I’m not sure I am ready to go further than my immediate family and friends now though.
Hi Alison. It’s a shame you haven’t been tweeting. I hope you can feel more comfortable in future and start chatting again. Take care. X
It’s a minefield for kids who are quite new to the Internet. They just tend to think nothing will ever happen to them.
Great thought provoking post. I often wonder whether everyone is who they say they are but the more I chat the more I let my guard down. The online world is very different though. If we find it hard to navigate it must be really hard for kids something I keep trying to bear in mind for when mine get older and more exploratory.