AM Coffee Talk #33 - The Dark Side of Social Media
I knew when I rebranded the blog that I wanted to take the Saturday Morning Coffee posts and make them something with a little more substance to them. If you've been following the blog since last year when it launched, you know the Saturday Morning Coffee posts have changed a lot since I started out. I wanted to use them as a way to continue having honest conversations on this platform by opening the door for people to come and discuss topics and current events that are happening and affecting our everyday lives while also offering actionable advice for those things.
AM Coffee Talks will take place every morning and are going to be exactly what they sound like. I'm going to pick a topic and write about it live while drinking my morning cup of coffee. I hope you guys continue to enjoy these posts and I am excited to see what they evolve into over the next few weeks.
The Dark Side of Social Media
The first topic I want to discuss is at its simplest form, the dark side of social media. I follow a lot of bloggers and YouTubers and recently I've seen a lot of them talking about the scary side of social media, people making threats, leaving hurtful comments, and so on. Now that we have a baby on the way, I think I am much more aware of situations like these but it really came to a head for me last week when The Earls Family, vloggers I have followed for years now, actually had to call the police because of threats made to their one-year-old son.
What are we supposed to do when something that is supposed to be fun and bring us joy and connectivity turns potentially dangerous?
There are, of course, many instances of things like this happening. The dark side of social media can come in many forms from catfishing to trolling and beyond. It raises the question of how much sharing is oversharing on the internet and should we all be a little more cautious when posting our whereabouts on Instagram, showing people the insides (or even outsides) of our houses, or just tagging locations in posts on Facebook and other social media sites.
I would be lying if I said that the possibility of what happened to The Earls Family happening to us didn't scare me. Despite having a much smaller following across my social media platforms, the dark side of social media is something that can really affect anyone. Moving forward I know my husband and I will have to have tough conversations on how much about our child, our locations, etc. we are going to put out there on the internet.
Do we make the decision to keep our children's identities private by not providing their full names and not showing their faces? I know a few bloggers who do this and it's a route that I've definitely thought about taking for our family. But do we run the risk of coming across as inauthentic to some if we don't share every aspect of our lives?
Regardless of whether you're just using social media for fun or if you're a blogger, YouTuber, some other type of creative person, etc. social media can be a dark place for all of us. One wrong comment, a follow from someone you don't feel comfortable having as a follower, something a serious as a threat can really affect your mental health.
Is there a happy medium between sharing just enough and sharing too much?
Takeaways + Advice
Here are my key takeaways from this topic:
The dark side of social media can affect anyone
You have to decide what's best for you and your family
Don't ignore things that make you uncomfortable
So what can you do to protect yourself from the dark side of social media? In truth, it really is going to depend on how private you want your life to be. If you're not interested in completely going dark on social media, here are a few suggestions on how to keep yourself safe on social media:
Don’t post exact dates of vacations, trips, when someone is alone at your house, etc.
Don’t post/tag locations while you are at that location. Wait until you’ve left to share.
Keep the location of where you live general if you choose to share at all (don’t talk about or show distinguishing features of your area, etc.)
Look into your followers, if someone or something makes you uncomfortable, report them
Research social media laws in your area and across the country, don't be afraid to report comments or messages that make you uncomfortable
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic and any advice you have (or what you do) to keep yourself safe on social media. Leave a comment below so we can chat about it!