Social media is a double edged sword. On one end, it’s great for staying in touch with people and keeping up with current events, on the other end it’s a perfect platform for people to stalk you and misinterpret your posts. Because online posts can lack context and are not accompanied by body language, tone or facial expressions, we aren’t always able to relay our words in the way we mean them. That can be quite dangerous when everything we say is open to misinterpretation. You also may be prone to some unsavory characters and potentially dangerous stalking. For this reason, it’s important to be selective about who you add to your social media accounts. Not everyone who “follows” you is doing so with good intentions. Cyberstalking is a very real problem that we should all be aware of. Often people follow because they genuinely like you, but sometimes they’re just trying to be nosy and get dirt on you, also known as “hate following.” It’s important to know the difference between real friends and foes.
Know Who To Add
There’s no doubt that having open social media accounts is more fun and engaging, but it’s also more risky. If you’re dealing with a specific person or group of people who are 1. using your social media posts to stir up drama. 2. follow you, but you know they are a “hate” follower or part of a group that includes “hate” followers -it’s time to block those people or delete them from your accounts. It’s not “rude,” it’s necessary. Because here’s the sad truth -not everyone has good intentions when they follow you or add you on Facebook. Unless you are actually friends with them, don’t add them on Facebook or on any of your other social accounts.
Also, be cautious of adding distant family members, co-workers, or in-laws. Unless you are close to them and they know you well, it could cause unnecessary drama. The reason adding these types of people is tricky is because you can’t choose them. We can choose our friends, but we can’t choose our family, in-laws, or co-workers. Because we don’t choose them, they are often in our lives by default, not because we necessarily have anything in common with them. As a result, we may be very different people with very different lifestyles, ideologies, political opinions, etc. which could potentially stir up conflict.
If you must add these types of people on Facebook, put them on a “restricted” or on a privacy setting which limits what they see on your wall. That way if you get tagged out having a drink with friends at 11pm on a Tuesday, it doesn’t turn into, “You’re an irresponsible alcoholic who is slacking on the job/a bad mom/overall terrible person.” You may have very well dropped in after working till 1opm to have a single glass of wine and been in bed by midnight, but trust me, people will find a way to misinterpret those sorts of posts. Save yourself the hassle and put them on “restricted.”
Proceed With Caution
While social media can be a great place to connect with others, express your opinion, and keep up with current events, it should be used with caution. The internet has a way of exasperating judgment, opposing political views, and misinterpretation. If you’re dealing with online drama, delete/block the offenders, and lock down your privacy settings. If you do decide to keep your social media accounts open, just remember prying eyes will often be lurking. Be prepared to deal with it should someone start stalking you or take offense to something you’ve said.
Of course, the easiest way to avoid any drama is to stay off social media all together, but what fun is that? Social media is a valuable resource for having a voice and connecting with others -don’t let a few “haters” stop you from utilizing it. Just be smart about it.