Someone I've known for a while now and who by pure circumstance has become a really good friend sent me this link earlier today.
The Social Media Sabbatical
We'd been discussing the virtues and perils of being too exposed on social media, and as a self-confessed attention whore I never really thought there was much downside to being "Out there."
Recent events made me think otherwise.
Lately there has been a spate of Facebook clonings which poses security risks of unprecedented levels. Imagine having your entire Facebook account cloned, and then have the perpetrator send out messages from your account requesting urgent financial help or worse still, have them set up casual meetings under your name only to injure or harm your friends when they arrive.
Scarier is that it's already happened and is still happening. Note the number of people urging their Facebook friends not to respond to requests for money or help if they received such messages.
Maybe not as dangerous but certainly equally scary if not scarier are the twisted perceptions friends or followers of yours on social media networks portray of you to others.
I've never shied away from the fact that I'm an extrovert and a borderline flirt. I use that word 'borderline' loosely, but it certainly doesn't make me loose by character.
Imagine my surprise when I found out through newly acquired friends that there were some out there who were portraying my tweets and status updates as having deeper and more sinister meanings than what I, the author of those tweets and status updates, had intended?!
I found myself subconsciously scrutinizing my written word. I'd think twice before posting anything online, be it on Twitter or Facebook or my blog. I found myself censoring myself, and I hated it. I hated it as much as I hate censorship. I hated it because it made me realize how trivial people can be when it comes to friendship.
Mostly, it made me realize that simply because Twitter says you have 1200 followers it by no means indicates that 1200 people like or respect you.
It made me realize that simply because Facebook says you have 1000 friends, you should never fool yourself into thinking that they're all your friends.
There were some hard lessons learnt lately. Right up on the top of that list of lessons learnt is that those who preach and pretend to be decent and good human beings, are in fact masking some serious character flaws.
If you have to quote scripture to exemplify your goodness, the truth is that you're probably a really shitty human being to start off with.
Growing up, my mom always said that if I keep finding fault in my friends and people I regard as dear and close to me, and I keep having to change my inner circle, than the problem is probably not them, but me.
No truer word has been spoken in relation to friendship.
So I contemplated taking the social media sabbatical.
I thought about it for quite some time. I even slowed down on my online activity.
Until tonight when I realized that by doing so, I would be succumbing to the very ideology I detest. I would be succumbing to censorship of the worst order.
I would be succumbing to censorship by those I once considered dear friends.
I'll be a tad more circumspect and cautious, but I'll be damned if I'm going to be silenced!