Do you know the difference between a cyber fan and a cyberstalker? Because there definitely is a difference and if you work online you should be aware of what cyberstalking is. You should also familiarize yourself with what catfishing is because there are some really desperate individuals out there.
I live and breathe online. I get it. I make my business public. That’s why I’ll never get to live out my dream of being a politician.Well, that and the fact that I actually have some morals and ethics. Those are hard qualities to reconcile with being a politician. My personal business is just too damn public. It served its purpose. It was cathartic but the downside is…everyone knows my business. I’ve had to forfeit some of my expectation of privacy by doing this.
It wasn’t important at the time. At the time I wrote some of the pieces, believe me, my mental status and processing were much more important than who knew my business. But then the dust settles and it’s out there and, as we all know, once it’s out there. It is out there so be somewhat cautious with your online presence.
A couple months ago, I had a real life face-to-face meeting with a reader. Well, she wasn’t so much of a regular reader as my bank teller who handled a deposit from Pop Sugar once and from there on decided to Google me and follow my writing…everywhere. First I thought maybe she was a fellow writer who wanted some tips on how to pitch Pop Sugar. Normally, I would have been flattered but she did one of those things where you go just one step too far. You know what I mean. We’ve all done it. You know you’ve gone too far fangirl when the other party gives you the “the hell?” look. I think she saw mine all the way from my car.
Anyways, I was a little bit creeped out that my teller not only went fangirl on me but then started telling me how she Googled me and had read my pieces on Scary Mommy, Huffington Post, Latina Mom.me, Parenting, She Knows, The Stir and even stuff as far back as Aiming Low. But, I let it go. I mean after all; I make my life public so what did I expect? Someday I was bound to run into someone other than my family, friends or fellow bloggers who actually read my blog.
But then a couple weeks later I returned and again she referenced things I had published online. Now, again this might not have been creepy except when I write online there is a tiny bit of privacy. For instance, most of you don’t know where I live, have my actual address and social security number at your disposal and know where my kids go to school and what they look like in person. You guys don’t know my husband’s name and I probably won’t run into any of you at the local grocery. Basically, I’m not in any immediate danger of you guys coming to my door and boiling my dog or using me as a skin suit. Her on the other hand, she was creeping me out. And now that I think about it, I probably shouldn’t be writing this at all because SWF might be reading it. Anyways, here’s hoping she’s not!
I’m not going to lie. I started avoiding my bank. I just felt uncomfortable with her level of comfortableness with me. It’s one thing to Google, someone, it’s a completely different thing to actually tell them and continue on like that is normal to do. It certainly wasn’t professional.
I didn’t think it had really affected me until I realized I have 4 very personal posts in my drafts folder. Anyone who has been reading me for a while knows that I don’t leave posts in the drafts folder. I publish it all.
Then last night, I had a very weird and long dream. I’m not going to go all into detail but let’s just say it involved a very not well-thought out panic room, a weirdo and my entire family. The scariest part of all was that after the entire situation was resolved and the aggressor was apprehended in my dream, the creeper looked at me and (Scooby Doo ending like) said very eerily, “It’s okay, I’ll find you again. You’ll be x, y, z, doing x, y, z again soon.” And that was very scary because they mentioned very specific posts from my blog and I woke up ready to shut the whole thing down. But then I remembered, that’s not who I am and I’m not 5-years-old. Nightmares don’t send me running to my mom’s bed anymore. So, I’m hitting publish and I’m leaving it all on the blog.
The moral of the story is that if you don’t want to be labeled an online stalker, don’t tell people you meet in person that you’ve never met before that you’ve Googled them. It’s just weird unless you are vetting someone for a job or a date and definitely don’t do it every time you see them.