Do We Give Too Much Of Ourselves To The Digital World?

It’s an idea I have been struggling with for a while. I have a love/ hate relationship with the internet and digital media.

I spend a bit of time on social media sites and the more time I spend on there the more I wish I didn’t. Yet I find it hard to control the curious need it has over me.

When you are out and find yourself waiting it’s too easy to check in and see what people are doing to fill the time. I even deleted the apps off my phone to stop myself but found standing around watching people using their phone made me put them back again.

Of an evening I tend to check in a couple of times while I’m watching TV to see if anyone is as bored as I am and wants to chat. I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

I want the internet to be a nice safe place where I can meet and talk to nice people and never see the bad side but it just isn’t like that. I log on and see people abusing each other, people send you unwanted messages, you get caught up in situations you should have avoided and interact with people who are not always what they seem.

I’m a naive person, I choose to believe when people talk to me they are telling the truth. I am an open person and freely offer myself to others so that they know they can trust me.

I’m the kind of person who would help anyone to the best of my abilities if they asked me to and offer help even when they don’t. I have helped people or so I thought.

I’m not sure I trust myself in the digital world anymore. The internet can be a dark place full of people looking for weak and naive people to exploit and use to their own ends. I just find that a sad abuse of what the internet should be.

My Mum asked me yesterday why I use Twitter as it seemed to her to be full of horrible people. She had read an article about cyber bullying and has cautioned me in the past to be very careful of who I interact with, which I just laughed off.

Twitter for me has always been a place to find people who have the same interests as me to chat to. I get lonely sometimes and there is always someone online to talk with (my friends are all married with kids so its hard to find chat time with them).

I have met some nice people on social media who I’ve had a lot of fun with and learned things from. I’ve always been selective of the people I follow for that reason, I didn’t want to introduce horrible or negative people into my life.

I’ve met people who have nonetheless had a negative influence on me. I’ve allowed myself to be caught up in situations I should have been more wary of. I’ve ended up getting hurt and questioning whether I should even continue with social media.

But I followed those people, I allowed whatever happened to happen. I partook in it freely if not somewhat naively. But now I worry that what has happened will come back and bite me. That I will become a victim of the dark side of the internet.

The side where people take things that were said and information that was shared and share it with the world. It’s not hard to do, in a moment you can ruin someones life with a few misplaced words or a simple document upload and that scares me.

I have never and would never set out to hurt or ruin another persons life. I have spent my life looking after people. Making sure they know in me they have a person they can come to whenever they need someone whether it be someone to talk to, someone to help or just someone to be silly with for a while.

To help and support others to achieve their potential by offering your time and expertise when needed is what life should be about. People helping each other to make all our lives better. That’s how I want to live my life, that’s what I believe in.

I put other people’s needs in front of my own, think about other people before myself and want to be there for people whether they need me or not.

I’ve been told I’m suffocating and my misguided attempt to be a good  and supportive friend has actually made things worse and not better. Being a self-deprecating person I immediately fell apart and began to mistrust myself. I find it so easy to get lost in the parts of myself I hate that I forget about my good parts. When someone highlights something bad in me I immediately believe it and tear myself apart over it. I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror.

I let myself forget that all I ever wanted to be was a friend to that person like I am to so many others and instead of just walking away I let them tear me down. I let them make me believe I am a horrible person. I let them make me question my actions and hurt myself and I don’t know why.

I know plenty of people who love me just the way I am, considerable faults and all. People who appreciate the fact that I put in the effort to be there for them when others wouldn’t. That I would stop what I was doing to help them if they needed it. That I support them in their decisions and cheer them on in their achievements. That I act the fool for them when they need cheering up. That I take the time to tell them when I’m thinking about them. That I don’t judge them but always try to understand their point of view.

I take more pride in being able to help and watch the people I love and care about achieve their potential than I do in my own successes.

I pride myself in being a person that people can go to when they need someone. I don’t ever want to feel like I let someone down because I wasn’t there when they needed me.

I just wish more people were like me and considered other people’s feelings before their own because I believe the world would be a much better place.

I can’t help but feel the digital world we are creating around us negatively impacts on the good intentions of people like me. I use various apps for interacting with people. But all of them can be open to abuse. You can never guarantee the other persons actions will be as honorable as your own.

When things go wrong and it becomes time to move on from people you interacted with you can only hope that you will be respected enough to not be exposed on the internet. People grow apart and find they are heading in different directions. It isn’t always easy to accept and sometimes it hurts and you grieve but it is a part of life we all have to deal with.

It is rare for someone to want to attack you when this happens but on the internet it happens more than it should. We have all read a story where someone ended a relationship to find photos and videos of them being plastered all over the internet.

I can only imagine how hurtful that must be. Especially now that employers are scouring the internet to find information about their employees. It is very hard to undo the damage it creates once the information is in the public domain.

I learned a valuable lesson, a lot later than I should, don’t share too much of yourself. Don’t give anyone power over you. Don’t share anything you could regret later.

The truth is you can never know who you are talking to. Just because I am open and honest it doesn’t mean that everyone else is. People tell you whatever they want to achieve what they want at any given time and all you can do is hope that the information is real and that their actions are honorable. But the simple fact is not everyone’s are.

Let’s face it, we have all been caught in a digital situation where something wasn’t right. Whether you found out the person you were talking to wasn’t who they say they are, something someone said was taken out of context and caused you offence, you purchased something that didn’t exist, whatever it is.

The internet allows people to abuse it, when if used responsibly, it should be a good thing. It is too easy for people to con and be conned. There really should be a way of making it safer and to deter unscrupulous people from finding innocent victims, but it is hard to legislate something so widely used with content generating in so many different countries. We all have to protect ourselves and the people we care about to the best of our abilities.

Apps are being created all the time to allow people to connect with each other, most are designed to promote casual hook ups and can end up with people getting into dangerous situations. The fact this becomes an issue should negate the need for people to create the Apps in the first place in my eyes.

Apps store information about us. The internet stores information about us. That information is insecure, it can and has at times been hacked. Anything from telephone numbers, addresses, credit card details, online contact details, photo’s, conversations, videos, content you view online and the items you purchase all leaves a digital trail for the knowing to find. If they can find it, they can exploit it and they can attack you.

I can honestly say in the heat of the moment I shared more than I should have. In hindsight there are things that I regret but I shared things with people I trusted and hope that trust is enough to not become one of the victims.

I do know that from now on I will be much more guarded. I will protect myself as much as I can and I will be a lot less trusting of others. I will be more careful who I choose to interact with and where I choose to interact with them.

If you can’t appreciate me for who I am and what I have to offer then you don’t deserve my unconditional loyalty, support, friendship and trust.

 

I won’t let people negatively influence who I am anymore because in truth for the most part I’m proud of who I am and anyone who really knows me knows how hard it is for me to say that.

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