Revenge Porn and Other Social Nightmares

Thursday night, I watched my first-ever Lifetime movie.  It was called Social Nightmare. The premise was simple: a high-school girl with ivy-league aspirations has her dreams annihilated by someone posing as her on social media. She spills friends’ secrets online, signs her best friend up for a ‘sugar daddy’ dating site, and finds digital pictures of her in her underwear coursing through the school’s halls like lightning.  Her fellow students turn on her, her teachers are rightly perplexed, and Brown, to which she was recently accepted, revokes her admission.

She comes to spend her days at home, taking antidepressants and sleeping.

I’ll let you watch it if you want to know the twist.

 

This morning, I read a New York Times article about Revenge Porn. According to the article:

Revenge porn sites feature explicit photos posted by ex-boyfriends, ex-husbands and ex-lovers, often accompanied by disparaging descriptions and identifying details, like where the women live and work, as well as links to their Facebook pages. 

The State of California is moving to make revenge posting a crime. Up until this point, acts of online revenge have largely gone unprosecuted. Though online crime has picked up considerable steam over the past few years, and police departments are quickly catching up to accommodate, victims of online revenge must often resort to civil suits to attain any justice.  In addition, according to the article, once victims admit they willingly gave the pictures to the defendants, sympathy seems to just dry up.

There are as many stories about online nightmares and incidents filed in courts as there are cat videos on YouTube.  We’ve also reached a point in society that people are looked at more questionably for having no social media profiles than several, but others are at risk for being passed up for jobs, admission into schools, or other positions because of their social media profiles. In my eyes, that’s quite a Catch-22.

I began to think about myself, and whether or not I would maintain (or have even created) this online persona if I were still working as a behavioral health clinician. Chances are, I would not. Would a potential employer be aligned with my views on everything? Would I (and the employer) be able to separate Working Stephanie from Social Media Stephanie? Would I be able to keep the social media aspect from bleeding into the professional arena and vice versa? Would that even be necessary? I’m not sure.

I am truly horrified when I hear that potential employers are checking out applicants’ Facebook pages and Twitter profiles before extending offers of employment. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Facebook where most people complain about their jobs?

The fact is, we’re out here, in 3D, and we’ve all built our castles online. This is how we’ve come to live. I’m just having trouble conceptualizing how we will successfully integrate both. For instance, will we take into account the fact that people tend to be more brazen online than they tend to be in person, that people embellish life’s details to spice up their news feed, that people are just different online than they are in person?

Furthermore, I think a lot about what I do online – what I say on my private Facebook profile, what I say publicly on my Facebook page, who I am on Twitter, and the impressions I leave elsewhere in blog comments and on other social media. In my mind (and I’m sure this is not the best way to look at it), everyone’s everything is out there already, anyway, so who cares?

But, as we can see in the above examples, there’s ample reason for all of us to care.

We know way too much about what everyone else is doing, which negatively impacts everyone’s safety. There’s no longer a filter to even the most inaccessible individuals’ thoughts (thanks, Twitter), and, with each click, we open ourselves up to more potential heartache.

Can we ever go back? Can we live without it? Would we want to? Will law catch up with technology? And will my kids, ultimately, be safe out there in the digital jungle?

It’s the last question that keeps me up at night.

  

Momma Be Thy Name

@mommabethyname on Twitter 

Momma Be Thy Name on Facebook

mommabethyname@gmail.com

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