I posted this  about two years ago. It was relevant then, and has become even more relevant now, as well as personal. Read through it and I’ll meet you at the end.

 

“Scientists say one of the methods that helped the development of language in primitive man was gossip. As sad as that sounds, I can totally see it, cause what do people love doing more than telling other people about others.

Leap ahead millions of years and now we have a tool for which to tell people stuff without every having to leave the comfort of our caves. I’m talking about the social network. Facebook. Twitter. Google+. Tumblr. MySpace. Or one of the hundreds of other social networks out there. Even people who are brave enough to resist the online social plague are affected by the existence of these things.

Ok, I’ll tone down the rhetoric, but here’s the point I’m trying to make; sometimes, good, smart people turn into blithering idiots when it comes to some of the more popular social networks, like Facebook and Twitter.

A recent example of this was a bunch of high school students who blasted their school and some teachers on their Twitter accounts. What they forgot to realize is that others could see what they were saying. The school found out and now they in it deep. Back in the day, these dum-bulbs would have just wrote it on the bathroom walls, or in the margins of their binders. Eventually, the janitor would wash the walls, or they’d lose or throw-out their binders for new ones. In short, the stupid shit they wrote would disappear. That doesn’t happen online.

Unless you purposefully go online and track down every stupid things you said, or photo you’ve posted, those things will float around out there forever. Don’t believe me? Google it. Think up a common, embarrassing comment or moment, enter it in Google and see what comes up. I bet that something some poor soul hoped would never see the light of day again will pop up.

Another example, A young gentleman panned to run for the NDP out in British Columbia. Unfortunately for him, picture of his college days, showing him in his underwear and grabbing a girlfriend’s breast was dug up and distributed to the media. In the end, he bowed out of the race because of these images, even though they were taken at a time when a lot of people do stupid things. The fact that they were posted online made them immortal.

But it’s not just photos showing poor, juvenile judgement. There’s another affliction that the best of us seem to fall prey too. It’s the idea of telling everyone in our social network about our lives. I know this sounds kinda against the whole idea of social networking, especially among friends. But there is a point to be made.

When my father passed away a few months back, it was a difficult time, to say the least. We had to contact old friends of my father, post an obituary, set up funeral arrangements, and so on. Each time, telling someone about it was so hard. But no one posted anything on Facebook about it, save for one person who isn’t always social network suave. This event wasn’t Facebook material. It wasn’t something you post to see how many “Like”, or leave comments. The important people, the people who needed to know, they knew when we called them, talked to them, with over the phone or in person. I eventually posted a brief comment, after everything was done. But it was more of a “this is why I’ll not be a round for a while” type of post. I didn’t post it to see the comments, or whatever.

Recently, I had a few things come together that made bad things worse. In a moment of weakness, I posted a terribly self, and self-pitying post. I quickly deleted it and apologized for it. Posting the first message didn’t improve my mood. It didn’t garner waves of support. It was just a way to get attention. Having dealt with depression in my youth, I could see the post for what it was. A public cry for support, when I should have kept it private. I should have went to those who matter, instead of airing out my troubles for everyone to see.

But there are a lot of people out there who don’t understand that. Sure if something important happens, you want to tell those that matter. But telling hundreds of people on your Facebook account, many of whom might only think of you as an acquaintance, about the worrisome events in your life is just feeding gossip mills and telling people who don’t need to know.

Just because we can tell others of the minutiae of your life, doesn’t mean you should. Here’s a hypothetical example…

What if you posted something on Facebook about your loved one, who had come down with a medical issue. Its seriousness isn’t known, but tests need to be done. What if the family of your loved one saw your post? What if your loved one didn’t want to tell their family until after the tests, when they had more information? Suddenly, you have a worried, pissed off family, wondering why you are telling everyone about a private matter?

Some may see such a scenario as just informing friends. But others may see it as a selfish way to garner attention and sympathy. Some may be just so used to telling everyone everything about their lives, that they forget that doing that to others may not be in the best interest. Some may be just so self-involved that they may never understand that not everyone wants every detail of their live spread across the internet.

It isn’t just kids that need to be taught social network etiquette. Adults are learning about all this as well. I’m just as guilty of doing stupid things online as anyone. The difference is that I’m learning. Unfortunately, many won’t. They may never understand. Perhaps they were popular and are used to everyone knowing everything. But when that mentality affects others who want to retain some privacy, trouble will arise and someone will eventually get hurt.

It isn’t the social networking’s fault, not completely. It the lack of knowledge and information of the people who use it that causes the most damage.”

 

Redux:

I should have taken my own advice.

Whatever the reason I wrote this before, I forgot it and became just as bad as those I lambasted.

I’m all for speaking your mind and voicing your opinion. But for the real important things in life, the ones that can only be eased by good friends and family, those are the things that should remain OFF social media.  Everyone is different, and some will readily tell you everything, good or bad, about themselves. But before you do the same, ask yourself this:

“Who will it hurt?”

Because even if you are angry, frustrated, and feel utterly alone, you really aren’t. And the reason you aren’t might be the only people who can help you ease that hurt, anger, and frustration.

Let a cooler head prevail.