Social media is a funny old thing. It opens your life up to others in a way that was never possible before. We actively encourage people to connect with us, even though we know little or nothing about them.
These people become followers, friends.
But there are many ways people can connect with us without us even knowing. For instance, over my twitter accounts I have over 5,000 followers. Although some follow more than one, mostly they are unique to the account. Of course I have the accounts for different reasons, so that’s what you’d expect. But in any month I interact with maybe only 100-150 of them.
What are the rest of them doing there?
Although my ego would like to think otherwise, most of them are probably ignoring me. My tweets come up in their timeline and they might glance at them or just pass right over them. Why do I think this? Because it’s how I treat most of the people I follow.
Some though, are ‘Lurkers’. They follow me, read my tweets, and say nothing. They stay well off my radar. Gradually they get to know me a little better and maybe one day they’ll reply to something, retweet something or start a conversation with me. Great.
Then there are the stalkers. These people might not even follow any of my social media, but they regularly read my tweets, my blogs, look at my last.fm, my pinterest, and anything else they can find of mine.
Why? Curiosity perhaps? Maybe something I once said or did piqued their interest, maybe they’re an old friend or an old girlfriend and they just want to see how I’m getting on, or maybe they’re someone who once crossed me and are paranoid enough to think I still give a crap and want to see when I’m plotting their comeuppance.
I put a lot on the internet. Not everything. I haven’t updated my LinkedIn for a long time, for instance. Mostly because my current client needs confidentiality, and the project I’m working on in what’s left of my own time isn’t something I want anyone I’m not friends with to know about just yet. I don’t put up anything online about my relationships, because they’re no ones’ business but my friends’. Even when I had facebook, I didn’t want to put up any kind of relationship status: the important people all knew, why would anyone else care – and if they do care, isn’t that a bit creepy?
But what’s there online is open for anyone to see. And if it isn’t open it’s none of my ‘stalker’s’ business. Earlier this year one of my protected twitters was hacked, and read by a few people. Because they weren’t part of my life, they didn’t know what I was talking about on there, and they ended up making prats of themselves by misconstruing it in the most egocentric and paranoid way possible.
The lesson is: Know me or don’t. If you know me, that’s great. Hello. If you don’t, then read whatever you like that’s out there. Draw whatever inference you like, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that anything I write is about you. That’s a little like hearing me talk on the phone while I walk past, and thinking I’m talking to you! Why would it be about you, and isn’t that just incredibly egotistic?
The other lesson is, whatever anyone puts out there, I might read. Although why I’d bother is an open question.