Until social media do us part

Security & Privacy

While social media provides dynamic new ways of keeping in touch with the people we love, it also makes our lives public for all friends and family to see. With just a simple status update, a wall post or note and you can reach everyone on your friend list. And sometimes we all lack the best judgment on what to share.

I’ve seen some very sad things go on through social media – from fights to quick changes in relationship status from “in a relationship” to “single” just to hurt an ex to divorces announced to partners via Facebook wall posts.

All of these interactions are there for you or your partner’s friends to see (unless you’re very good at organizing your Facebook friends). Social networks have changed the very nature of relationships and break-ups. The easy access we have to each others personal lives may even promote cyberstalking.

Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there was a girl and boy, lets call them Jane and Jack. They were young with hormones running wild. They met and fell in love. After some years, they realized that their relationship wasn’t the love story of the century after all. The happy ending of the story was that they still remained good friends after the break-up.

Unfortunately this book didn’t close there. Some chapters were later added.

Years went by and neither found a new partner until one day Jack met a new girl, let’s call her Mary. He believed this could be the love story of his life.  The new relationship bloomed and Jack wanted to spend more and more time with his new love.

His friend, the ex-girlfriend Jane, wasn’t happy about this. Suddenly she wasn’t the number one person in his life anymore, even though they had been “just friends” for years. All three of them had friends in common, in real life and even more through social media. Feeling lonely, the Jane started posting and making strange comments on both of the lovebirds’ walls.

Social media gave her an opportunity to take her private pain public.

Jane started posting old photos from her and Jack’s past publicly. She spread lies to their friends. These lies were believed by those who were loyal to the her. It all escalated to ugly texts, Facebook messages and emails.

The new couple was surprised when friends began ignoring them. But they continued their burgeoning relationship despite the harassment. They blocked Jane from all social media possible. They avoided her in real life.

However, this didn’t work. Jane wouldn’t give up.

At some point, the couple realized that the problem could not be solved over social media. They confronted friends who were ignoring them and found out what was being said. Then they decided to go straight to Jane. She refused to leave them alone. Only an open letter from them both finally helped her understand and let go.

The happy ending of this story is that the Jack and Mary are now a happy family of three. The unhappy part is that two people lost a friendship that could have lasted for a lifetime even if their love didn’t.

Cyberstalking is getting more and more common as more and more people embrace social media. Laws around the world are still being developed to deal with the threat. In Finland, at least, there is nothing you can do about it, unless the harassment escalates to clear threats.

As in most stalking situations, the victims usually know their stalkers so dealing with the situation is awkward and difficult. One good rule still is to react immediately to behavior that crosses your boundaries by blocking the person as soon as you notice things going in the wrong direction. This way you might be able minimize the harm and prevent things from flowing over to real life. When things start getting mad in real life, turn to your local police for help.


CC image credit: kelsey_lovefusionpho

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[…] post and regret Share this  Print July 7, 2010By Gia In my last post I raised the issue of cyberstalking. Even if the situation is somewhat difficult from the legal perspective, the Finnish police, for […]

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