Anyone who knows me well, knows my struggles.
Okay. To be honest, you’d have to know me really, really, REALLY well because I’m not one to shout my struggles from the top of the internet waves. But, suffice it to say, I’m struggling and making some progress.
Not quite as quickly as I’d like but we’re on an upward swing instead of a downward spiral. So that’s a good thing.
Because of my struggles, I don’t have the focus and patience to write as much as I used to. But I do peek in here from time to time and when I do, I enjoy catching up with you all. And watch my stats slowly decline because as you all know, the less you write, the less people check in with your writing.
One day, about two months ago, eager to write, with so much to say, I sat down at my computer and logged on.
Only to find a comment, a very creepy comment, about a picture of one of my kids.
My brain turned to mush. If I had anything to say before I sat down, it had evaporated. If I had any focus or attention span….POOF! Gone.
I quickly deleted the comment (which never reached my blog, thank God, because it had to be “approved” by me first) and then scrolled back, over 6 1/2 years of blog posts, and systematically deleted just about every single picture I had ever posted of my kids.
Now, I have hundreds of posts that make no sense at all because the post was crafted around a funny picture — at least, a picture I thought to be funny. Not provocative. Or sexual in any way.
But apparently, I was wrong.
I know there are creeps out there. I watch Law & Order: SVU. I read the headlines. I just never thought that a completely innocuous picture could be construed in such a creepy way.
This picture deleting task took me about four days of what felt like every free moment in front of my computer. Between track and swim practice, making dinner, and doing laundry, I pretty much sat at my computer and deleted pictures.
There are many of you out there who never, ever, ever post pictures of your kids. There are many of you out there who post pictures all of the time. Then, there are those of you, like me, who post pictures when the story warrants.
There are pictures of kids playing. Or eating. Or shot only from the back. But a picture is a picture and I’m here to tell you, as innocent as you feel your picture might be, some weirdo out there is going to find a way to get all excited about it.
Last night, channel surfing, I discovered a show on the SyFy network called The Internet Ruined My Life. Compelling stories about people, like you and me, who posted something online and social media ran with it in a direction that was never in a gazillion years intended.
A speculative tweet about a popular TV show. A picture, taken in public, turned into a bully-worthy meme. An erroneous emoji.
An emoji!?!?! (She thought it was the crying emoji and she had put the laughing emoji with tears by mistake.)
All of these things invited death threats. Pleas asking the victim to kill themselves. And did I mention death threats?
Some victims were actually hunted down and the threats of violence became real.
I’m not so naive as to think that the world is a completely safe and happy place. But when in the world did it become okay to threaten the life of another human being because she guessed right on a plot twist for a TV show, happened to be in public when his picture was snapped or mistakenly used the wrong emoji? (I kid you not. A misplaced emoji turned this poor girl’s life upside down.)
The laws protecting all of us need to catch up with this rapidly changing use and misuse of technology. And frankly, I’m confused. I have no idea what is safe or unsafe anymore. On my Disney blog I have plenty of pictures, that I have taken, with innocent and every day poses, of people in public. All perfectly legal. But all possible fodder for the sick and twisted mind.
I don’t take huge risks in my life but I don’t live in fear, either. I lock my doors at night. I am savvy to phone calls trying to extract personal information. I guard my pins and passwords. I (now) am reluctant to post pictures of my kids. I avoid traps of identity thieves.
But, I’ve always lived my life, with relative piece of mind, that the odds of horrific things happening to me are pretty slim.
And so far, I’ve been right.
But, it seems, that narrow, slim chance is getting wider and wider with every keystroke.