Jul 25, 2016

Not So Secret After All.




I belong to a closed group on social media that has brought together a large number (several thousand) of mostly female members of my profession.  The one thing we have in common besides our profession is that we are all parents.  The aim of the group is simple.  It's meant to be a place for us to discuss whatever it is that's on our minds that relates either to work or parenting or both.  Ground rules have been established and agreed upon with the moderators of the group being proactive and sensible in their application of the rules to posts and comments.

So it was hardly a surprise that I took to the group like a duck to water.  And it's been a lovely community to be part of.

But as with most things on social media, there was an incident recently.  A member of the group had found the support so useful she casually mentioned it to a friend to see if she was interested in joining.  The friend then replied that she'd actually heard of the group through a mutual acquaintance who was also a member of the group.

Unfortunately, the group had not been referenced in glowing terms.  The mutual acquaintance had taken it upon themselves to screen shot the more 'inane' posts and then used those screen shots for a few cheap laughs.

I know we're all adult women and the members of this group presumably have a reasonable level of resilience, maturity and intelligence to rise above this incident but the jibe hit its mark.  Some members became even more considered in what they posted, others noted how things like this reflect more on the observer than the observed and the majority carried on as normal.

We could analyse this deeply about how women should all be 'leaning in' to support each other.  We could also glibly observe that women seem to be their own worst enemies who tear each other down.  But my initial thoughts were a bit more basic.

For me, the incident brought home yet again, the message we tell our children and ourselves.  Nothing on the internet is completely private no matter how well vetted and secure you might think an online community is.  The internet is also forever thanks to a well (or badly) timed screen shot.  If you put it out there, you need to be prepared to deal with the consequences good or bad.

But I do wonder about the screen shot person and whether any of us who use social media are in any place to judge.  The attack was personal to us because it came from within the group.  It was also the work of our dear old friend Anon.

The thing is, I've been having far too many chuckles over Melania Trump this past week and the made for memes controversy over the striking similarity of her recent speech to one Michelle Obama gave several years ago.  I've also voiced an opinion on the final reveal of who The Real Housewives of Sydney are.  With regards to the latter, I'm bitterly disappointed that the fixtures on Sydney's social pages that I'm most intrigued by kindly declined their offers to be a local housewife.

It was all light hearted, the people at the centre of the attention wanted the intention in the first place.  Where's the harm?

Potentially everywhere for the people at the receiving end who meant for their actions and words to be received in a certain way.  You can't control how people respond to anything you share in a public forum. Taylor Swift put it so well with the line 'haters going to hate'.   But you also need to protect yourself in the event of the worst case scenario (and then some) by exercising a bit of discretion and judgement (preferably of yourself, not others).

Are you a member of an online forum?  Do you find yourself fully reassured by the fact that your group is 'secret' or 'private'?  Or do you conduct yourself as you would elsewhere on social media?

9 comments:

  1. Oh SSG I'm so sorry your privacy was violated in this way! It's never nice when something you say or do is taken out of context and to a wider audience than you intended for it.

    With regards to online life, I was young but still old enough to remember what my dad told me when we first got internet. Everything you do or say or anywhere you go can be public knowledge. There is only an illusion of privacy on the internet and given time and effort anything you intended to be hidden can be brought out.

    I'm not going to say that means I've got nothing online I'd be embarrassed by if it came to light now - some of those facebook memories are cringe-worthy, haha! But it has helped guide how I behave and control what I willingly share, no matter the forum, and has made me try to be as secure as I can with the important things like credit card and address details when shopping online.

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    1. That's so true about the illusion of privacy, Mica. Something we're going to have to reinforce to our own children from a much younger age than perhaps any of us have had to learn it at.

      SSG xxx

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  2. I'm careful what I say/write online. I have however had an experience with a text a few weeks ago. I have a family member, distant family, who is constantly falling out with someone. At the moment it's 3 people. She started an argument with me over text and I fell for it. She then sent the text I sent her, which was not inflammatory, on to 6 other people in the family. She then texted me to say she had done so. It backfired on her but I will never trust her again. So I would add be careful what you text and verbally say also.

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    1. I'm sorry you've been caught up in such a difficult situation, Anna. Hope it gets resolved soon.

      SSG xxx

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  3. Interesting - I am quite careful about what is put in writing anywhere to be honest. Even texts to close friends and family. You just never know what is going to end up where.

    Sad about your support group. I guess once you have more than a few people in a group - particularly if you don't know them all in real life then there is always a risk.

    Take care.

    xx

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  4. Sorry that you had a situation like that happen in your group. The internet has gotten so "large" that nothing is really private anymore- no matter how hard you try to make it so. I've gotten to the point where I don't respond to friends post that much anymore because someone may take it the wrong way, even when I didn't mean to. We've gotten so used to sending texts, Private messages, emails, and such, that we have forgotten how to actually communicate with each other face to face. I'm a introvert, so communicating via text/private message is easier for me, but sometimes what we write out isn't necessarily clear to the recipient. It may come out innocent on our end, but to the reader, it may come off as being rude or taken to a whole different level.

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    1. Good points, Tracie. Agree about how what is written can be so open to misinterpretation by the recipient.

      SSG xxx

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  5. When I was at uni I moderated a Facebook group of 8-900 students. I regularly had to remind them that the group was not private, and that anything they said could be made public at any time. We couldn't guarantee that everyone in the group would be discreet about what they read, and to be very careful of winning anything libellous (for example, when letting off steam about lecturers). Nothing on Facebook and on most other social media platforms is sacred - people are the variable one can't control.

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