Amber went viral the other day.
I’m actually not surprised that she did, although it’s disheartening, because Amber is wrong.
In part, she says:
I want to hear about your divorce.
She goes on with this gem:
I want to hear if your partner has been abusing you. . . I want to hear of your bad days, your pregnancy loss, your fight with your spouse. I want to know if your kids have driven you to want to walk out that door or drown yourself in wine.
Her reasoning is that somehow if you can’t go on social media and totally trash another person (your spouse, your partner, your kid), you will ultimately commit suicide.
People end their lives every day because they think it’s not okay to talk openly about their feelings.
One phenomenon I have noticed on social media that is disheartening is the level of gullibility displayed by so many people.
Amber has 322 Facebook friends. I suppose it’s possible that she personally knows all of those 322 people, but I doubt it. Hardly anyone knows all their Facebook friends in real life. I sure don’t.
During my time on social media, I have met some folks that I count among my good friends today. Not good Facebook friends. Good real life friends. I have either met them in person or talked with them extensively by telephone, real life contact. They have visited where I live. I have visited where they live.
I just did a little count on my own Facebook page. I have never met or spoken with 2/3 of the people on my friend list in real life. Four people on my friend list are dead (five if I include Nathan), and I keep them as “friends” just because I loved them. The ones I do know are people who are former neighbors, or people we knew well in places we’ve lived other than here. Facebook is a great way to keep up with them.
But roughly 2/3 are people who I acquired along the way. I rarely make friend requests, so the majority of those people sent me the request. I don’t really know them. In some cases, I’ve followed their Facebook posts long enough to get their personality, but even that can be very deceiving.
I have met, in real life, several people that I first met on Facebook. Most of the time, these folks are exactly as I pictured them. We liked each other in the virtual world and we like each other face-to-face. We’ve met for meals. We’ve met at events.
But there have been two incidents where I met people in real life that I knew online and the outcomes were absolutely awful. In one case, the woman spent the night at our house and it was just a disaster. In another, we had what I thought was a great time and then it went south much later.
I’ve learned to be a little bit wary.
So when somebody I really don’t know at all posts something on Facebook totally trashing another person who is not present, who I don’t know either, and describing circumstances that I cannot check, I take it with a huge grain of salt. I do not have a knee-jerk response of “Oh, what an awful person. You need to report him/her to the police” or “How can anyone be so terrible? You were right to leave him.”
Here’s a personal example.
Notice the gullibility on the part of Christiane Liggett. She says she just found out my name. Yet, Cathy declares that I am a “serial stalker” and that Lisa (the “suspended lawyer friend”) sends “rape threats.” And Christiane replies, “OMG! That’s horrific!”
It’s not horrific because it’s not true. Cathy is currently waiting for a court date to face charges of making false accusations to the police. In other words, Cathy is a serial liar, something I’ve proven over and over again. Yet, she makes false statements on social media, trashing other people, and is automatically believed without question.
Christiane even asked about my background, got it all wrong, and wasn’t corrected.
This is common. It’s so common that I rarely comment or even read it when people post all about their divorce, or their fight with their spouse, or their huge argument with their neighbor or the school board. I don’t know the facts, and I am not going to be dragged into somebody else’s clothesline where they are airing their dirty laundry. In fact, the quickest way to find yourself booted from my Facebook page is to start doing that.
Of course, Nicole grabbed Amber’s post and shared it with the single comment: “This.”
She thinks it’s great. It validates her. She’s supposed to share all this stuff online. It’s not just her right. It’s her fucking duty.
When I started the original Romancing website several years ago, I knew I was putting myself in the line of fire. I knew there would be repercussions (there were) and that I risked being criticized pretty severely (I was, and still am). I make a decision to do it anyway because I believed then (and still do) that the positives outweigh the negatives.
But the point is that I knew. I understood that when I use personal experiences to illustrate some point or other I’m trying to make that somebody will decide that I’m a serial killer, or a serial stalker, or that I say mean things about rape victims. I understood that somebody would ultimately start trashing my son.
This is what happens when you go public. It’s part of the landscape. Free speech works both ways. You don’t get to go on Facebook and say horrible things about your spouse, who you are divorcing, and think that his family and friends aren’t going to retaliate in some way. You can’t expect to say anything you like and suffer no consequences and have only responses of “Oh, I feel so badly for you. Can’t you get a cease and desist letter?” or shit like that.
But you see, even Amber really understands this, or maybe she figured it out after she wrote her little piece and went viral. She didn’t mean to go viral, of course, but that’s the risk you take on social media.
I am BEYOND honored at the hundreds of friend requests I have received today but I am so sorry, I cannot accept every one. I have children and post lots of photos of them and adding 600 strangers is a bit daunting and terrifying.
Oh wait. She looked at the prospect of having a bazillion people see her personal stuff and said, “I didn’t mean that. No.”
But you see, she made the original post public. I think somebody asked her to do it so they could share it, but ultimately it was her choice. Furthermore, she has it set so anyone on the planet can comment. That’s her choice. I have my whole Facebook page set that way, but I know what can happen and accept the risks.
Unlike Nicole, Amber gets it, even if she had to figure it out by writing that silly post. Her photos of her children are set to friends only or something private. That’s as it should be. If she wants to whine about a fight with her spouse, she can do it privately. Only her friends can see it and they can ditch her if they don’t like it. Or her spouse can ditch her. Either one works.
It’s 2018. I think it’s about time we learn to open up to others.
Actually, no. It’s about time we learn that a Facebook friend isn’t necessarily a friend at all. It’s about time we learned that children (and spouses and neighbors and co-workers) deserve some degree of privacy. It’s about time we learned that strangers are not interested in every grievance we think we have suffered.
It’s 2018 and it’s about time we learned that what is posted on social media is forever and that we might regret it one day.