Friday, September 30, 2011

Beware: Watch your "Social Media Back"

Social Media can be a great thing. It can also be quite unsettling. It can leave you vulnerable. I don't often talk about my past. Not that it was bad or because I did anything crazy. There are parts of ones life that are raw, unresolved and therefore go unspoken. That is until through the beauty of social media they hit you smack dab in the face.

In high school I met & fell in love with Tom a very smart and handsome young man. I was head over heels crazy in love. Of course, hormones took over and at 18 I gave birth to our daughter. Yes, there was s shotgun wedding. Back in the day that's what we did. Sadly, I wasn't the only girl on the block to wind up in that situation. After a very tumultuous two years, this union which was doomed from the get go, came to a crashing halt. While I'll spare you the details, it took me several years to recover from the heartbreak. It took me 18 years to fall in love again.

That chapter had long been closed until I received several anonymous emails telling me that my first husband had passed away several months earlier. It had been nearly three decades since we had spoken, a lifetime ago. He had moved on with his life and I with mine. I remembered him as a vibrant young man and was sad to learn his life ended. He and my daughter never had a real relationship. It had been over 25 years since he had contacted her. I don't even know if he knew he had two grand children. They were never mentioned or recognized in his obituary. His family never had a relationship with my daughter and never met my grand children. Probably didn't even know they existed. We are all o.k. with that.

Now, for the unsettling part. This week someone named Charlotte (who we don't know) posted her condolences on his legacy guest book. She included a photo of my daughter (which Charlotte used as her avatar) and one of my grand-daughters. She used the photos as if they were hers. She did not mention that the avatar she posted was not her and that the girls had nothing to do with her. Both photos have been cropped & edited from a recent photo that was taken of my entire family for Parade Magazine (including my husband of the past 18 years who raised the kids w/me). It's downright creepy.

I can't imagine why someone who we don't know would do this. It serves no purpose. It could certainly be hurtful to his mom, sisters and son. While they know he had a "First Family" we have long been out of their lives and long forgotten. Chapter closed. I have googled "Charlotte" in Land O' Lakes until my fingers went numb. Surprisingly, "Charlotte" does not exist! Then who? Who would feel compelled to do such a thing? Sometimes, the past should be just that. The past.

While I may never know who "Charlotte" is, I think there is a valuable lesson here. You have got to "Watch you Social Media Back" ... People can steal your likeness and use it for anything. They can "edit" your life to fit theirs.

Here's what "Charlotte" wrote:

September 28, 2011
My thoughts and prayer are with your family today Tom. I've just recently learned of your passing. You possessed a spirit that always gave and seldom asked for return. You continue live on in the heart and soul of your diverse and very large family, your multitude of friends from all walks of life, and in the beautiful children and their children you created. Your life and all which it stood for should never be forgotten. May peace surround us all until we meet again.


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