Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Social Media Scary
Blog posts go out. People read them. Some people leave comments, but if I compared comments to hits I'd say most people don't. Which is maybe why I'm so comfortable. I sort of forget how many people stop by, read and are gone without ever leaving a trace.
This isn't to say I'm not grateful for my readers or expect everyone to comment. It's more to explain my surprise at the series of unexpected events that follow.
My daughter has a phone, sort of. It's actually my old phone with the phone part deactivated. She loves checking her email, the weather and sharing silly pictures of her hamster (Nixie Minaj) clothed in the latest Child #1 creation.
Things were good until I realized I wanted her to be able to text me. Yes, I realize people lived for years without text messaging services, but it's just so convenient. In lieu of actual texting that would require a phone plan, I downloaded a messaging app to her phone and we started having long text conversations. I'm a social texter, which means I like to chat via text and, as it turns out, so is she.
And it was still all good until I published one little Tweet.
One little Tweet was all it took to remind me the internet is a teeming metropolis. Just because I stay in the nice neighborhoods, doesn't mean there aren't mean streets I shouldn't wander down in the middle of the night.
The Tweet, as most of my Tweets are, was innocuous. Something along the lines of "I love using [texting app] to text with my daughter #motherdaughterbonding.
What happened next was frightening. My phone started to blow up with text messages from other users on the app I'd named. Within ten minutes I had over thirty messages from strangers.
Some of the messages were disturbing. "Please talk to me. I need a mom." Some of them had major ick factor. "Hey MILF, I bet my c*ck is bigger than your husbands," complete with nonexistent punctuation and photoshopped evidence of the male sexual organ of, I don't know, a donkey, maybe a small elephant, attached to a human being.
The whole thing happened so fast it caught me off guard. I read a few messages before I remembered this app allows the sender to see when their message has been read. I started to get more messages which made me feel like my phone had been contaminated...which in a way it had.
In the end I quickly deleted the rest of the messages without reading them and haven't had a problem since.
But it did serve as a good reminder. The amount of hits my blog gets on a daily basis surprises me. On Twitter I have close to 7000 followers. On Google Plus my profile has found its way into a similar amount of circles. All of the foregoing is just a numerically quantified way of expressing the internet audience is wider than I remember.
I've been thinking of what happened as a wake-up call. The internet city is immense; a place virtual art museums are erected a mouse click away from prostitution rings. Maybe it's good to have an occasional reminder to look both ways before I cross the internet highway.
But I have to admit, it does leave me curious. What precautions do you take to avoid being hit by a runaway internet freight train?