We are all guilty of over sharing on social media. It’s human nature to want to share our lives with one another, whether it be good or bad. We love for people to see how happy we are, and we love to get sympathy when things aren't going so well.
Several years ago I was on Facebook for a short while, and when I got into a messy situation, Facebook was a key ingredient in making my life hell. It allowed people who were uninvited to my life to intrude on it, and cause more turmoil than I could have imagined. I had broken off a relationship and started a new one, but the exes (mine and his) were very upset about it and went for revenge. My photos, emails and phone number were being sent around, gossip led to more gossip, harassing texts were being sent, and I felt like I had no control over my own life. It seemed people were really out to ruin me, and they would use every tactic they could, whether it was the truth, or made up lies. People can become unrecognizable when they are hurt or angry, and I never saw myself as the target of something like this, but then here I was. I didn't know how to handle it and I'm sure could have done things differently, but it took away my peace, which I guess in the end was the whole point. There was a period of several weeks where I couldn’t sleep because of all the anxiety I had built up over it. Privacy is a weird thing that we willingly give away, but when it's stripped from you, it's a very bad feeling.
All of this eventually led to the new boyfriend threatening to physically hurt this person, which scared me (I didn’t anyone getting arrested over a breakup!) and taking me to the police to try and get a restraining order to stop the harassment. I still remember how scared and awful I felt that night. All of this because of social media, and the lack of boundaries is creates in your personal life, allowing people to find out things they really should never know. To make a very long story short, you can’t get any type of protection from the police, or really do much of anything about this sort of thing. Facebook won’t help you take down photos, and Google won’t help you retrieve emails or information. I felt invaded and exposed, and there was nothing anyone could do. The sad truth is that the police is essentially helpless when it comes to social media harassment - unless there is physical threat of harm, proven over a period of time, you can't obtain a restraining order, at least in Texas.
My situation was messy, but eventually it settled down over a period of several months where I didn’t react. But it taught me to be extra careful online and now I think twice before hitting “share”.
I also realized that oversharing cheapens my life, which brings me to my next point. Don’t cheapen your experiences by over exposing them. You say whatttt? But you post every minute of your day on Instagram! Well, that’s what you think! You only see what I want you to see. Because of my bad experience, I don’t get too personal. When I’m on vacation, the phone is off, and when my hubby is around, the phone is away. Not to say that you should never, but when you post about your experiences, the moment becomes about who’s liking your photo and what they think, and not about the experince itself. Don’t miss out on great moments by making it about social media.
I don’t claim to be an expert on anything except my own life, but this is what has helped me.
- Don’t post your location until after you’ve left - This may seem obvious but it wasn’t to me. I like to put my location and sometimes you have to if you’re working on a projet or collaboration with a company, but don’t do it while you’re still there, unless you want people to find you.
- Don’t geotag your home location - This is another “le duh” moment, but social channels are tricky these days and you have to turn the location finder off in your settings, or it automatically puts your home (where you post from the most) on the map. Hello creepers. If you click on the little raindrop on your home page on Instagram, you might be surprised to find many photos coming from your home - you can delete the geotag from there.
- Don’t post pictures of you and your husband in your bed - This isn’t so much about safety, but because it’s suggestive and gives permission for people to come into your bedroom, the most intimate and private of places. You don’t have to be doing anything weird, but just the fact alone is a little much. Leave some moments private to only your real life.
- Don’t post every little letter and gift your man gives you - Yes, it’s adorable and you want to scream it from the rooftops, but it cheapens it. Chances are, he did something sweet because he loves you, not so you could show it to all your followers and expose it. Let some things remain just for the two of you. They mean more that way.
- Vaguely asking for prayers or sharing relationship drama - Instagram and Facebook are great ways to stay in touch with our loved ones, but vaguely hinting at needing prayers comes off as a desperate cry for attention, and sharing relationship drama does the same thing. If you really want help and support, reach out to close friends and relatives. Remember what you put out there shapes the view the world has of you, and there ain’t no taking back sister.
- Don’t name names - Even with telling you this story, I am careful not to expose anybody, because my goal is just to tell you what happened to me. When you choose to share on social media, that is your right, but it is not your right to expose someone else who didn’t ask for it. Don’t name names - you don’t want to be responsible for shaping the view the world has of someone else. Always be respectful and considerate.
- Don’t post inappropriate photos, or talk about work in a negative way - Nowadays, schools and employers Google your name to see what you are up to, and you truly never know how that information will be used.
- Don’t announce you’re alone - I see this a lot and it boggles my mind! Doesn’t anybody watch Forensic Files?? Don’t announce your hubby is out of town for 2 weeks and you’re alllllll alone. Just don’t.
It's a fine line as a blogger, since most of our life is on display for others to see (that's the whole point isn't it?). But try and keep in mind that with every post you publish on social media, if someone really wanted to use it in a negative manner, they could!
One final piece of advice: Only post things on social media as if your grandma is seeing them! (which mine is you guys. Grandma is on Instagram - can you even).