I had to stand trial recently for something that I was completely guilty of. It wasn’t a real trial in a law court but to be honest it was probably more stressful. I am guilty of bitching in four or five tweets on Twitter and my trial was held by twenty or so women that I have never met, offering up their opinions on my punishment for my slanderous ways.
It made me think, how much is social media affecting our personalities? Is it allowing us to pass comment on judgement over little issues that we normally wouldn’t be bothered about? Does the anonymity of some of our accounts make us more outspoken? But, in general is it healthy to know so much about each other’s lives? I am starting to wonder if maybe it would be better for us all to keep our lives within our own four walls.
I will tell you a little about my crime. In my earlier days of Facebook usage, I randomly friended anyone who I had met in the past. Now every year or so, I would do a sweep to see who was relevant or entertaining, but for the most part my friends list as remained the same. I have had my Facebook account for 6 years and it has seen me through good times and bad. It has helped me save some memories with pictures and words. It has also helped me reconnect with old friends and invite some new ones into my life as well. I think that this is the positive side of social media, it’s an online diary that holds information that you wouldn’t normally write down.
On the flip side, Facebook has also helped me get into trouble. I have posted pictures that have upset people I have teased my two eldest sons. I have had arguments with people that I have no issues with. I have had arguments with people that I have serious issues with. I have over-shared. I have been cryptically insulting and I have basically, on occasion been an absolute idiot. My Husband, who is not a social media enthusiast, will happily tell me ‘You have brought this on yourself,’ and then I will put that remark on my Facebook, because I never learn.
So with the random feeds that appear on your screen, you can’t help but indulge in a little voyeurism into other people lives. I know your all thinking, ‘I do not do that.’ But I would say that if you are a female, then you should be honest with yourself. I know we all do it because it’s a part of our biology. You find yourself, or I found myself becoming irate with peoples comments and photos and then falling into the trap of following there feeds as though it is a soap opera. It’s almost as if its reality TV and you fall into the ‘It’s so bad, it’s good’ syndrome. You think you are alone in doing this but then by chance, one of your real friends, you know the kind, the ones that you know in the flesh, says that they have been thinking the same things as you about these particular feeds. Suddenly you are part of a group of like-minded people that you can bounce your opinions of.
Under normal circumstances and not viral circumstances there would be safety in numbers right? But unfortunately it goes the other way in this instance. The more people that send you their comments the more you become vexed about the original and on-going feeds. Also, on the days when you don’t consult you Facebook account, you can be certain you will receive a message from someone hi-lighting a feed that you haven’t even seen yet. It has created a bomb that ticks away inside your head just waiting for your internal word vomit tendencies to take over and let rip.
So this was the build up to my crime and my bomb had been ticking for months. In hindsight I wish that I had used the magic delete button to protect me from my mouth. But, I couldn’t because every day the ‘soap opera’ feed was more outlandish and it kept feeding my natural ability to mock other people. I was trying so hard to keep my mouth shut that I didn’t notice my friend stock piling material for me to use when I eventually blew. I was a sitting duck and the next feed was going to be climatic. I was going to let go of some long term frustrations. It was inevitable. I just needed something to light the match.
I have to state at this point, that whilst I am a very sarcastic person, I also have a lot of humility. On or off social media I give myself one hundred percent in hard times. I very rarely think I am right, but that doesn’t stop me from being opinionated. If I have an opinion and I am wrong, I will still stand by what I said, but I will admit that I am wrong about the bigger picture. I am whole heartedly self-righteous but only about the worst of human behaviour. I will always back up my opinions with a relevant piece of information, though quite sadly on my part, it’s mostly only relevant to me.
Anyway, a major event was coming up for the Facebook ‘soap opera.’ What should I do? Should I partake in it ensuring that I would start dribbling disparaging comments or should I refrain and sit back and ignore it? My friend was all for it. It was a ‘let’s witness’ together kind of scenario. Why don’t we just satiate each another by sharing an hour of sarcasm and forbidden laughter? How much harm could it be? What is the worst that could happen? I ashamed to say I just couldn’t resist. I had spent a good portion of conversational time with my friend on this Facebook feed and I wanted to see the outcome of all comments that I had considered ridiculous. So I did it, I partook in the crazy and then I exploded.
Now, I am not overly keen on picking on people and will slyly do it using cryptic comments and witty banter. I know that makes me sound like a cow, but you have to believe me when I say the recipients do covet my mocking with their behaviour. So like any self-respecting cow, I moved from Facebook on to Twitter and made comments using hash tags. The words I mentioned were fish wife, moron and deluded, plus I did the worst thing and included a couple of pictures here and there. I didn’t address the subject person directly because that would be unfair, as I said, I only used cryptic comments fuelled by my subjective cleverness. Though like most other cows, I got eventually got caught. I don’t know how. I covered my tracks. Maybe I was being over confident with my creative tweeting. Maybe I thought I was above the social media laws. I really only know that I got caught and I was knee deep in the internet proverbial.
It was what happened next that really got me thinking. Firstly, my friend, my comrade, abandoned me faster than a chicken lays an egg. I was still getting their private messages telling me how my own name was being brandished about, but publicly I got no support from my Facebook mocking counterpart. It made me think about what this meant for our friendship, I was annoyed that I had been left to hang, and I was worried that social media had affected us in real life. What if I carried on feeling abandoned, would they support me on more important issues? How had a mutual mockery of a person we both barely knew caused me to feel like this? I had brought it on myself but it was becoming serious.
Then my own Facebook and Twitter pages started filling up with comments. The original subject had a lot of supporters and they were ruthless. They were referencing things that had happened to me in the past, other members of my family and they weren’t using words like fish wife or moron. I have to confess I had a mild panic meltdown. I didn’t want this, plus the excessive pressure it put on my blackberry was very worrying. It was buzzing around like a vibrator on speed.
Firstly I deleted the tweets. This was part of a damage limitation plan formulated in 5 minutes. Then I started to block the people coming at me. This was actually not something I wanted to do because I wasn’t hiding, but my twitter is important to me. I then blocked the soap opera to stop me from getting further involved (remember, I can’t control my online mouth) and finally I made an official statement on my Facebook supporting my original word vomit.
I know your all reading this thinking ‘who does she think she is?’ and the answer to that is absolutely no-one. I don’t think I am important at all. But what I did find was that my negative comments seemed to be important to a myriad of people and I have no clue why this is. I kept getting called jealous and obsessed, but I can honestly say that whilst I am jealous of and obsessed with Cheryl Cole. She is the only person. I also felt like if I defended myself it would prolong the agony and give a story to the ‘soap opera’ I had been mocking all these months. So I kept schtum and hoped it would go away. I am still hoping to be honest it is fading, but not completely over.
In everyday life, on a face to face basis, I would never have gotten involved in something like this. I wouldn’t have passed judgement to anyone but my husband and I certainly would not have called someone a fish wife no matter how much they shouted. So again, my mind flew round to ask the same question? Is using social media changing us? Are we putting our true personalities out there or are we hiding behind virtual doors. It temporarily turned me in to a bit of a cow, and made my friend look insincere. But then burning question was what if the ‘soap opera’ feed was a little bit made up. What if in real life it wasn’t as tedious and vacuous as it came across. Perhaps what had taken place, that I had been put on trial for, were two virtual individuals fighting over the social media persona’s we had made up.
I have no answers at the moment and I think time will tell, I mean we all run into Facebook friends now and again. I just need to be careful that I don’t get a smack around my actual rather than my virtual face in future.
Love Keels xx