The truth about online social media

Having a blog or a twitter account or even an openly searchable facebook account leaves you at a social disadvantage offline.

Before the internet and this new ‘open social’ approach to sharing the minutiae of your life, you could meet and talk to a new acquaintance without many preconceived notions about them – and vice versa.

Now, the colleague you have barely exchanged 3 words with will suddenly reference a personal event in passing conversation leaving you with a slight gut punched ‘how did they know about THAT’ sensation.

It lasts a brief second before common sense kicks in and you first mentally revise every conversation you’ve had within their hearing and then the inevitable realisation that they must have read about it.

Early on in my online life (pre-blog) I was stopped in the street by a total stranger calling me Rosevibe instead of my name (hi Mark) who informed me that he lived a few doors away in my block of flats, he knew my taste in books and films, my occupation and various other items I’d posted to my profile.

It completely freaked me out at the time.

Yet now I have given complete strangers far more than a profile to go on. This and my other blogs give insight into my thoughts and feelings, my twitter stream and facebook detail my activities and my wishlists show purchases I plan to make – I’ve created the textual equivelent of a reality tv show without the excuse of a pay cheque and in doing so have given the psychological upper hand in any social meeting in the real world to the person who reads any of this.

It’s insane yet I continue to post; why? Well to be honest the ‘damage’ is already done; Almost everything I’ve written over the last 6 years has been cached somewhere and while a few of my views may have changed, those posts won’t.

To stand any chance of not being embarrassed by stupid things I’ve said or done I need to KEEP putting myself out there so that in this day and age of search and virtual reputation, prospective employers don’t judge me on events long past.

Like 99.999% of the human race I have issues – quite a few of ’em, but I’m far too British to ask a headshrinker to sort me out, I’ve always gone down the ‘bottle it up til you can write it down route.

I cringe to think of my naivity during the ‘early years’ of my virtual life. I started a blogger blog at the prompting of a friend and got so into it I also decided to transfer my diary online where it was ‘safer’

My thought process was; paranoia that family member/ other half would find my paper diary. Same applied to a file on my pc so far better idea to start a seperate blog, mark it private and keep everything online where those it may feature could never find it.

..Was a great idea until it started getting comments and my stat counter revealed the extent of the unexpected traffic.

I felt violated despite knowing that the only reason those private thoughts had been observed was because i’d put them on display.
The blog was deleted in its entirety.

That was my initiation into the reality of the web; the realisation that NOTHING online is private – no matter the passwords and settings you apply there is always the chance of someone finding it, either by innocent accident or malicious intent.

I can’t take back anything I committed to the electronic aether but I can temper the past with revelations of the present. It’s too late for me to completely audit my online presence because I’ve already put too much information out there, to you, the person reading this – learn from my mistakes; think twice before sharing anything online because the person you are becoming may not appreciate it being put before you out of context 2, 5 or 10 years down the line.