Sometimes it can be easy to forget how much we put ourselves out there. We’re so immersed in the idea of showing off or connecting to the people around us that we forget that we’re also showing the world who we are. Not everybody is like us and that can be easy to forget.
This post inspires a lot of feelings for me because it happened to one of my best friends. It can be especially scary for me because a huge amount of my life is lived online. There’s a rush of pride that comes with talking about my blog. I love having something unique going for me – blog people know about my personal life and people in my personal life know about my blog. The line between my blog life and my personal life can be crossed, but it should rarely be crossed.
One reason why this applies to book bloggers is because of the recent Stop the GR Bullies controversy. A website scrounged up extremely personal information about reviewers on Goodreads who they claimed were “bullying” reviewers. This can be explored to some extent, but never should they have gone so far as to give out personal information such as addresses, emails, phone numbers. And in most cases (of course, this is entirely in my opinion) the reviewers didn’t do anything wrong! Many reviewers have kids and families – people put in danger by this reveal of personal information. John Green and Hank Green have had to put on their websites that it is not appropriate to try to find their addresses and come to see them. It’s dangerous.
I’ve done a few security measures – I don’t say where I go to school, I block people on Twitter who make inappropriate comments. I don’t give out my personal email to anybody in my blog life other than a few really close friends. But until now, I didn’t realize exactly how easy I was making it for people to find out my personal information. But on my Twitter and blog, I have where I live, my age, and several other tidbits of information. As of today, it will be gone. Once I finish this blog post, I’m changing all my passwords, removing personal information, etc,. I’m going to keep my age up because it’s a part of my identity and helps with the perspective of my blog, but I am going to be much more careful from now on.
Something scary happened to my best friends today – somebody hacked her Instagram and posted porn on her feed. They had access to her accounts even when she changed the password and it was just scary to know how easily somebody could find her personal information. Her mom emailed everybody to let them know that she was hacked and that everybody should either set their Instagrams on private or delete it. Her dad is musing that it may have something to do with business – hackers working from a list of accounts to make Facebook look bad and make stock go down. Either way, it was freaky.
I have two main uses for social media: “in real life” and “blog”. The first is to make connections with the teens in my community. Without social media, I would be screwed. It’s how I find out about parties, organize dinners with my friends. Many of the connections that I’ve made and friends that I’ve made have been started by a TBH on Facebook or a casual conversation. It helps to be recognizable and seen on social media in real life because it lets people know who you are. I’m of the belief that too much knowledge is better than too little and social media is a great way to know more about people. It’s also the best way to know who is going out with who, who’s done what, and other things that are helpful to know, especially going into high school. Before now, the only negative that I’ve sometimes experienced is hurt feelings when I haven’t been invited somewhere with friends. There’s another negative to it: sometimes we can forget that it’s not just people in our immediate community (school, friends, etc,.) can see what we post and our personal information, especially if profiles are public.
The second use for social media is for my blog. Without Twitter, my blog would have never have gained more readers. It’s how I’ve connected with my favorite authors. I can’t praise Twitter enough. On Twitter, I don’t screen my followers as much just because of the pure joy of reaching eight hundred followers (I’m four away!) and I sometimes only see the numbers and not the people. Twitter was such a helpful tool at BEA and is fantastic for publicizing blog posts. It’s so easy to be another person on Twitter and social media that it also makes me feel better about myself. On Twitter, I can pretend that I’m somebody I’m not sometimes. I can be more confident and I have people who get me, when in real life, that’s not the case. I have a great number of followers and regular conversations. The problem with this is that I still have a PUBLIC profile. As more of my friends have gotten Twitters, I’ve been tweeting more and more personal things, especially since I’m about to start high school. Tweeting with a public profile can mean lots of retweets and random conversations but it also means that everybody can see it and not everybody has the same standards or morals that we do. I put myself out there so much on my blog and social media and make myself vulnerable to my friends and community – but I forget that I’m also making myself vulnerable to the world.
I’ve always wanted to be an “established” blogger and social media is a huge part of that. It’s also a huge part of being a writer! I see followers and I feel popular and it makes me happy. I’ve left it really easy to connect with me – my personal Facebook is friends with a lot of authors and bloggers. Twitter is the best resource for a blogger. This is what I want to do and this is the best way to do this. I practically collect social media accounts. I let my normal life bleed into my blogging world. I don’t want to be impersonal to my readers but there has to be a line. Safety should trump everything else. I’m going to be more careful about tweeting pictures of myself and my friends and just about what I say in general. I definitely live a lot of my life on Twitter and I’ve forgotten how scary that the internet can be. The internet is also forever. Whatever you put up there, other people can see. People still get really freaked out when I mention blogger friends or a conversation that I’ve had on Twitter and I always got kind of annoyed with them until I realized how much of my life I live on the internet.
Obviously, not everybody should take the following measures and not everybody is going to do so. I’m just saying is that this is what makes me FEEL safe. Do what you feel comfortable with. I’m not saying that everybody should be doing the same thing that I’m doing:
What am I saying? Well, I support the usage of social media (especially Twitter) but take extra precautions. If you tweet a lot of personal things but you also want to get lots of blog followers and publicity, make separate accounts. I’m about to do this. Set the personal account to private. Screen your followers always. Don’t put where you live in your profile and be very careful about what you put out there. Keep your blogging and personal life separate enough to be safe, be careful about what you put out there, and be careful about WHO you interact with.
Some measures that I will be taking soon include creating a personal Twitter, setting my Instagram to private and ONLY using it for blog things like which book I’m reading, sorting through Facebook friends and Twitter followers to make sure that they’re all appropriate, and making sure that I’m safe. I’m going to keep my age up, but also sorting through tweets to make sure that I haven’t revealed the school I go to or anything dangerous. My passion for blogging and networking is one of the biggest parts of me but please, if you network, be safe about it. I know it can be thrilling when you first start out to get a review request from an author and get all these books in your mailbox but be picky about your review request. If you suspect somebody, don’t give out your address. I believe that Katie from Mundie Moms has a P.O. Box.
This should also be obvious, but if you meet up with somebody that you’ve met online like a blogger friend or somebody, either meet with them at an industry event (BEA or ALA, for example, is where I met a ton of people!) or in a public place with somebody else present. Check through mutual friends whether this person is legit and be picky. For example, my (now ex) boyfriend Jacob was actually somebody that I met through blogging. We emailed for a while (using my blog emailed) and I checked with my friends who went to his school. I got my twin sister to come with me when we first met and we met at a carnival where tons of our friends and many parents were.
Change your passwords a lot and if you even suspect anything. Better safe than sorry. Don’t email your passwords to yourself if you have trouble remembering them. Keep them in a physical place! My mom, for example, has hers on Post-Its inside a cupboard.
Like I said above, this is just what makes me feel comfortable. Do what you want! I have no authority to be telling you what to do but this is my opinion.
It worries me to know how vulnerable I’ve been making myself without even realizing it. It can be hard to realize exactly how much you’re putting yourself out there by having a blog and social media accounts. I definitely recommend social media for blogging, just be careful about what you do with it and what you put on there. Don’t believe me about danger of social media? Read Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman.
Please be safe. I love y’all!