Since I started actively publishing on social media, I have had the great fortune to interact with hundreds of thousands of people all over the world. They haven’t always agreed with my point of view, but I can honestly say that I never had an interaction that ever diminished my opinion of social media, or made me wish I was less active.
Quite the opposite.
I have met really great people, many of them writers and bloggers. I wrote an article about my dad’s employment struggles, and complete strangers offered to help. While social media often has a reputation of demonstrating the worst of humanity, I have seen it, quite frequently, demonstrate the best of humanity.
And then I received a painful reminder that:
- People can suck.
- Your in-laws can be the unfortunate price you pay for having a spouse.
I have some good in-laws. My mother-in-law has really tried to step into a hole that was left when my mom died a year ago. However, one of my wife’s aunts (who I met once 11 years ago) decided she didn’t like a point of view I expressed about a political matter in a Facebook post, and attempted on several occasions to email my employer and request that I be terminated.
Needless to say, it was not a good day in our house. It was not a good day for my wife, in particular. Our marriage is resilliant, but when one set of in-laws decides to get one party in the marriage fired, it’s a hard day.
A few people gave me some advice, and it amounted to being careful about what you share on social media, and to not reveal so much about myself online. I have, in my many posts shared some pretty personal details about the struggles my family and I have experienced. Implied in a bit of this advice was that it was only a matter of time before someone attempted to use my words or perspectives that they disagreed with against me.
It is good advice, and I would be wise to heed it.
But I won’t.
Some of those highly personal stories have touched people, and it’s the sole reason why an unknown guy working for a firm in an obscure industry has any followers at all. Some of those opinions and perspectives that people don’t agree with have also resulted in some really special interactions. A recent post, where I wrote about a decision to let my son swear when it’s just he and I together, was not something everyone agreed with. Yet I received emails from several dads and moms who shared similar stories about using unconventional parenting methods to connect with their kids as human beings. In that example my words helped make them feel less alone.
It’s a great feeling to have, and it would not be possible without social media.
Just today I read that Iggy Azalea is removing herself from social media because of some harsh comments that were posted online about her weight. (Side note—she looks great in those pictures. With curves come dimples, and I’ve never met a guy who didn’t appreciate that.)
Whether you’re famous or just posting on your personal Facebook page, social media can have some really negative consequences.
But don’t let that stop you from putting yourself out there. Don’t let the bullies win!
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