The internet has become such that many people wouldn’t know what to do without it. We do work online, send emails, attend courses, post photos, stay in touch with friends, and a large number of other things. A lot of people make up their own online personas, whether intentionally or not, and it this can make some circumstances get a little tricky. How can you make sure that your online behaviour doesn’t affect your real offline life?
There are so many dating websites out there now, that they are deemed as fashionable rather than taboo. There are websites for the young, the elderly, single mothers, professionals, and all sorts of other categories. Whether realising it or not, most individuals who sign up to these websites make up their own online persona. A high percentage of people act differently online to offline, just like they might act differently over the phone rather than in person.
This might get you in trouble, when you meet up for a date with someone. You always need to make sure that you act yourself, rather than trying to act the way you do online. Everyone wants to see the real person, and you don’t want to find yourself in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable.
The number of online threats are increasingly rapidly, as the so-called ‘trolls’ reach out their feelers to explore new areas. Emma Barnett, Digital Journalist of the Year 2012, was one such victim of this social crime. As an avid user of Twitter, she received a tweet telling her, in capital letters, A BOMB HAS BEEN PLACED OUTSIDE YOUR HOME. IT WILL GO OFF AT EXACTLY 10:47PM ON A TIMER AND TRIGGER DESTROYING EVERYTHING. Whilst the reaction of most people might be to panic, Barnett reacted by shutting off her computer and going down to the pub to meet her friends.
She said that she had felt no threat from it at the time, due to the ridiculous username and use of capital letters, and she didn’t take it seriously. She went on to say that she had heard of others who had been victims of such threats, and the police hadn’t been able to do much about them. Barnett also said she thought maybe she had been digitally desensitised to such abuse on social media platforms, but perhaps she should have done something more about it.
The question is though, what can you really do? You need to keep calm in such situations, and think about it rationally. With so many threats being made online on a daily basis, the police wouldn’t be able to investigate into all of them. The important thing is to feel safe, but not to over react. If you have children you are worried about, then by all means call the authorities. If not, and you don’t think there is any real threat behind the message, then it could possibly just be a good idea to ignore it and carry on with your life.
Victoria Hull is a journalist and blogger who covers topics relating to Marketing and Social Media.
Mouse image by Matt Trostle