This guy I dated almost a decade ago had one of those football fan message boards. In fact, sad but true, I met him through his website as I am a rabid Longhorn fan and was actually on the bulletin boards quite often reading up on analysis and fan talk. And his website and those like it were a money-printing machine! Advertisers paid through the nose to have a banner up at the top of the page. Though the relationship and the website are both no more (thank GOD!), friendships I made through that particular fan website have endured. I know many of these people in real life and still keep in touch with them through various methods (through an offshoot bulletin board (LMFanZone!) or at tailgates when I go to the games in the fall).
My parents were always slightly freaked out about my online friendships as they never quite “got” it. And that’s okay. I could see their point. Most of the people who went on the boards hid behind a username and you never really do know whether or not they are telling the truth about themselves. In the case of the person I dated, unfortunately, he turned out to be a liar, but that’s another story.
All this took place before blogs became popular. Before facebook, myspace, blogger, and twitter came into existance and the accompanying online explosion where anyone with a modem could have a website or facebook account and immediately update the world on everything from the elections in Iran to what they had for breakfast. And not only that, but major corporations started creating "social" presence online. And there is a huge chunk of money to be made once again over the internet.
During that period in my life, I got to see the ugly side of bulletin boards (arguably the first version of social media). There were people out there who absolutely HATED the guy I dated. It was so ugly the things they would post about him, about his friends, about his family, about ME. I never quite got used to that part. The bullying with words (because that's all they had) of someone they never met in real life.
Fast forward to today. I have this little blog that I update on occasion. I write for me and if someone out there happens upon it and likes what I have to say, that’s great! But I didn’t start this blog for anyone but me and it has no purpose other than to be my release. It’s where I go to get it all out. I also have a twitter account that I use mainly to rant about things in silence instead of out loud. I follow certain people because they either keep me informed, make me chuckle, or both. There is so much about blogging and twittering and all of that crap that I neither know nor care about. I’m good with my little space because I’m not trying to influence anyone. I’m not looking for approval from you. I’m happy if someone reads this blog, but if you are not my family or close friend, it doesn’t kill me if you don’t approve of me or agree with me. And quite frankly, it doesn't kill me if my family and friends disagree with me, either.
While the online world has gotten bigger, so have the bullies and psychos. Childish behavior by adults has grown exponentially. My friend Jessica got into a war of words this weekend with just such a character. And apparently it has caused quite a big brou-ha-ha. I don’t particularly care which one started the mess. HE took it too far. She’s a big girl and can certainly take care of herself (I daresay that she has a few more connections in the real and online worlds that he does, but I could be wrong). But this guy has absolutely gone insane with his vendetta. He’s posted you tube rants, and has made online threats to not only ruin her, but also her family. That man is a certifiable psychopath. And he is so drunk with his supposed “relevancy” in “social” media that he thinks it is perfectly okay to do all this.
This is when social media becomes anti-social. And it makes me want to delete every aspect of my own tiny little corner of the internet. It’s not what I signed up for. And honestly? If you are sitting behind a computer screen, spending all your day “connecting” with people in the virtual world while ignoring the real and beautiful world and people around you, obsessed with followers and “friends” and posters and commenters and blah blah blah, then you are pretty much a loser. If you really think it is okay to call a person's young children names, then you are not only a loser, but a fucking ball-less dumbass as well.
I don't care how much money is in it. Social Media as a business is SO. NOT. FOR. ME.