As you may have noticed by now, I enjoy sharing all my online dating wisdom with my sense of humour in check, so I feel there is no better way to start this story, than with this little drawing by endless origami …
Did you hear that Stalking is now Socially Acceptable?
This particular cartoon made me laugh, but it also prompted me to share my own experience in stupidity, in what I would call my more exuberant days using online dating sites.
As I have always been an over sharer, I took no real precautions to protect my relatively quiet and somewhat average day life as a single mother, apart from the more obvious privacy settings on my medium of choice at the time, which happened to be Facebook. What I didn’t get – until it happened to me – was just how easy it is to profile someone from their online presence or timeline as we all know it, particularly after you give someone the Right to be your “friend”.
It’s bad enough that Facebook studied our emotional status updates recently, which showed us just how exposed we are, however you don’t think about your FB friends analysing you in that way! So here we are – or there I was – willy nilly posting stuff about my and my kids life on my timeline, but not for one moment considering what that exposes about me to others!
Now maybe it’s just all the single peeps out there, like me, constantly sharing our day to day activities, although I do notice a large share of married folk on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook now joining in the ranks. FB however was my only online Social Media crime of choice.
It was here that I told the story of my life, either through a simple status update or via photo bombardments: which came as either singular mobile uploads or as wad of photos added to a new album. What this told everyone was:
- my financial position (with pictures of my holidays, new car or house),
- my preferences for where and what I liked to eat,
- what I liked to wear (my style),
- and even who I would typically socialise with.
Other photo posting mediums do the same, maybe not to the same degree, but they still tell a story. Twitter too tells a story, as even though it is mainly for thought based over-sharers, the anecdotal references made here and there, as well as the satire comedy, often gives away their emotional state: because if you read between the lines of these tweeters, it’s often a disparaging remark about someone or something, unless they are just pedalling their wares
So as an amateur online dating Tinderella, I made two fundamental mistakes;
- Not using the security feature on Facebook to lock down my contact number so that only I could see it. That meant that any general public member could search my number, via their own Facebook account, and would find what was public on my profile (meaning anything I hadn’t already locked down, such as my profile pics and cover photos).
- The other was just how much of my life I exposed to my so called friends, each time I posted something on my timeline.
The first mistake, I put down to New to Online dating – Rookie Error, as hardly anyone I knew actually knows about this search functionality. The second however, was just one of pure naivety, on my part.
So why the lesson in our social media privacy?
Well within 48 hours of matching and talking to this online dater, I stupidly gave him my FB details thinking “what harm could it do?” After all he gave me his business website and FB account first, so I knew who he was at least. Plus, I had previously become instant friends with people that I would meet at a party or bar, only 2 hours prior. Therefore I had no real qualms in sharing my online profile, particularly if they shared their details first!
BUT IT IS NOT THE SAME!
Talking to someone for copious hours on the phone vs meeting someone in real life, removes many important elements in being able to assess someone’s emotional state. Apart from the most obvious eye to eye contact, you can miss important physical sensory queues, such as their smell, posture, choice in clothing, shoes etc. Online pictures and words only really tell half a story, after-all a short guy can make himself really tall if the photo is taken from below the belt … get my drift!
So when this online dater saw pictures of my children, the car I drove, the house I live in, the clothes I wear etc … etc: he made an executive decision there and then – and all by himself, that he was going to marry me and ward off any potential suitors for my daughter who – using his words “is unbelievably beautiful, just like her mother. So I can already see myself taking to any boy that wants to date her with a baseball bat when she turns 16”.
Not only did my heart start beating faster than Hussein Bolt’s would have, waiting at the starting line for his 100m race, but I realised just how emotionally needy and desperate this poor man really was, just to be with someone.
Was it his fault that he was getting ahead of himself – imagining what a life could be like with me – no not really! After-all I was the one that handed him the keys to view my life didn’t I. Yes, I thought what harm could be done, afterall it was mostly in picture format with a few anecdotal remarks here and there, but when I had a good look through my timeline, I could see how clearly my life was mapped like a kids treasure map.
That little experience of course, had me to locking down my Facebook account faster than Hussein Bolt could run his 100m … but “WOW’ aren’t I the Tom Fool for not seeing this coming!
Whilst my lax attitude towards online security taught me a huge lesson, the biggest lesson by far was just how much we tell our “friends and acquaintances” about ourselves in our seemingly everyday posts, and exactly how much of our lives do we really want to share!
Anyway, as always that’s my story so I would be happy to hear from anyone (guys and girls) this has happened to, and what you did to protect yourself from over-exposure!
A Real Tinderella