The question I get asked on an almost daily basis:
“Why don’t you have have a social media/networking website?” I usually reply with something simple like “I don’t believe in social media.” But to be honest, that is not a fair or complete answer.
I love the idea of social media, but I have seen it ruin a lot of lives and damage a lot of relationships and reputations. I also don’t like what it’s done to the average family unit, and don’t worry I’ll elaborate on these opinions.
First, I need to explain my personal situation. I am a young person living in the rural Midwest with an expansive family that’s spread out over the entire country. I was also raised to be very close with my family, phone calls and visits were a regular thing. I love my family, but I don’t feel like the social networking sites should be the only way I get to talk to them.
Since the Facebook phenomenon, I have noticed how little personal contact I get from my family. People that I used to get phone calls or emails from have almost completely disappeared from my life. And the question always comes up, “Why won’t you get a Facebook or Twitter?” Or whatever the newest fad is lately. “Use it just for family and close friends, it will help keep us in touch.” No. I have had the same phone number, email address, and physical address for over 10 years, if you really care about how I’m doing or really want to talk to me you have my information. You know where I am and where I work, so stop by sometime. Honestly I wonder sometimes if people deliberately leave me out of the loop because I refuse to have an online presence. An odd form of punishment maybe? I always get the excuse “We don’t have time.” But I am a firm believer in MAKING time, especially for family.
The thing that really pissed me off was when my grandfather died a few years ago. Nobody called me, the man who raised me, helped shape my beliefs and values was gone. And NOBODY called me, nobody told me he was in the hospital, I could have seen him one last time and nobody in my family thought it warranted personal contact. Everyone on the internet knew, and I didn’t. I had to receive a text message from my dad two days after he was gone. That to me is more warped than anything.
My other objections to most of these websites stem from the behavior I regularly see. Post after post of vulgarity and stupidity. Pictures of my friends and relatives half-dressed or drink in hand. The fighting and feuds between people who barely know each other. Listening to girl friends cry about boyfriends posting and messaging other women, listening to male friends upset about girlfriends posting raunchy photos for the world to see. People posting vulgar and inappropriate comments everywhere, skipping work and posting about it forgetting that their boss is on their friend list. And then their employers see this stuff and fire them… you’d think some discretion would be a good idea. The last time I had a profile anywhere I had to block more people than I added due to harassment. Men and women coming out of the woodwork to sexually harass or just harass me over photos or posts. People locally trying to start fights over nothing, I finally just quit.
It’s a mess, and I frankly don’t want to be apart of that.
One of the biggest blows for me artistically was a few years ago. I had been writing a lot. Posting poetry, photos, and short stories in a blog similar to this one.
I was hanging out with a friend and we went to a mutual acquaintances house. We were sitting in the woman’s living room and I could see into her bedroom from where I was sitting. And all over her walls was my artwork! She tried to play it off that she was just an admirer, but she had taken my name off everything and replaced it with her own. She had printed out my art on posters and passed them off as her own, even going so far as to turn them in as her own for her art and literature classes. I took my hard copies of my work to her advisors and teachers the following day. I never found out what they did about it, but they said they would take care of it. That since so many people post their art on the internet this was becoming a common problem.
I went online later that evening and did some investigating. I was shocked at what I had found. People I didn’t even know and some friends had just copied and pasted my work as they pleased.
So I pulled and deleted everything. Every website I had ever had a profile or posted anything on was closed down by the end of the night.
I haven’t been back till now. I still won’t get accounts on certain websites, but I am slowly trying to get back into the internet. Maybe if this experience isn’t as distasteful as previous experiences I will try more things.