Whether we accept it or not, Social Media has a huge impact on our daily lives. Even Nerdzy.com relies on Social Media to get our articles out to the masses. When I write an article, I always share it with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, and other various sites. I also see that people share my articles on Facebook, and Retweet on Twitter. Without Social Media, our reach would be fairly limited without big budget advertisements.
When used for its intended purpose, networking, keeping up with old friends, sharing ideas, etc…, Social networking is a fabulous contribution of our generation. Without the Social Media, we would still be sending letters and placing phone calls to keep in touch with old friends and family members. There is nothing wrong with phone calls and letters, however let’s be honest, for many of us that would mean losing touch with those old friends. In fact, I am in contact with more people now, that I ever was in the past. It is just easier to send a quick message to an old friend on Facebook that it is to call them and spend hours on the phone reminiscing, not to mention that I hate talking on the phone.
Unfortunately, the sheer quantity of Social Media Sites out there have also attracted the darker side of the internet. Sometimes the result is meant to be harmless, sometimes the perpetrator is just pure evil. For example, over the weekend there was a tweet that stated Bill Nye had passed away. For many of us, Bill Nye was a part of our childhood. If the people that re-tweeted would have completed a simple Google search, they would have seen that the tweet was fake. I am sure the tweet was probably from someone that wanted to see how far their tweet would travel across the internet. Apparently the tweet traveled far and wide.
So what, it was just a tweet, right? Wrong. Imagine the feelings that went through his family members minds when they saw the tweet. How would you feel if a similar tweet was made about on of your loved ones? Not to mention the time that Bill Nye now needs to spend debunking the rumors. Overall the tweet was posted in bad taste. Unfortunately, Bill Nye is not the first person this has happened to, and I doubt it will be the last.
Then there is the darker side of Social Media, the side of the web filled with Black Widows and Brown Recluses. This is where the Sexual Predators hide. Many times they are disguised as kids the same age as your kids. They have similar interests and hobbies. They know just what to say and how to gain your trust. As a Father of two daughters, I am constantly on guard against any new “friends” they might have on the sites in which they are members. Unfortunately, the residents of this side of the Social Media web are devious and destructive.
We should also not forget the group known as trolls. This group is out there, not to cause harm to their “victims”, but to get them riled up and cause havoc with their emotions. Usually they take a simple post on a Social Media site and turn it into an all out war. Many times this could be prevented if the original poster would just ignore the troll. Unfortunately, trolls are vicious and will usually only stop if the poster completely ignores them, or goes off the deep end and makes a fool of his/herself.
Recently, I completed a quick search of “Essel Pratt’s” on Facebook. I noticed that there was one more person with my name, and oddly enough, he lived in my neighboring city. I found this odd because it is my pseudonym, and not my real name. Upon further research, I found that he had copied all of my information and placed it on his page. He was also posting less than family friendly items on his page. At first I was disgusted by what I had seen. I sent him a message asking him to remove my information, and he eventually did after a couple of months. After a few messages back and forth, he admitted that he found my name on our sister site, Infedo.com, like my name and decided to use it for his “troll account” I guess I should be flattered that a guy like me, from Indiana, would be found by a guy living in Queensland, Australia. However, some of his posts were pretty nasty and as I am working to publish some stories and novels, I felt that his mockery was harmful. Eventually he agreed and deleted his page.
With so many dark corners in Social Media, how do we combat the spiders, trolls, and deviants? To put it simple, we need to be alert. If you suspect someone is a predator, a troll, or is bullying you, a family member, or a friend, be sure to report their profile to the necessary authorities. Don’t try to fight back on your own, you could actually cause the situation to escalate beyond the point of civil recovery. Many social sites also allow you to block people that are causing trouble. And of course, know your friends. This does not mean that you should not meet new friends online, in fact, I have met some great people that share similar interests and views as I do. However, I have also met people online that are only there to cause trouble.
In a perfect world, Social Media would be all fun, and no fear. Unfortunately, our world is not perfect and we have to always be on alert for danger.
How have you battled against the dark side of Social Media?
**Essel Pratt works in an office by day and writes for Infendo.com and Nerdzy.com in his spare time. He has published one story and is working on a couple Novels and one Anthology. You can follow him on Facebook andTwitter.
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