Is It Just Me?

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Is it just me?  Am I the only one who feels like I’m stalking people?  That is probably near the worst of things I personally could do to some other human being, and I accept that my reluctance to ‘stalk’, or even ‘follow’ has been heavily influenced by those who had no hesitation to stalk me.

It’s not a nice experience being stalked.  Being followed, watched, talked about, threatened, generally unable to live your own life without knowing full well that everything I do is noted.  I had a shadow hanging over me.  Actually I had two shadows and that just made the intensity greater.

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

Recently I (finally) signed up with Twitter.  This is a big step for me.  I knew it would be good to get my blog further out into the wider world but had been putting off the big step for a while.  It took me forever to join Facebook, as a few of my in-real-life friends can tell you.  I only joined because one friend was constantly on at me that this would be a great way for us to stay in touch (we don’t live near each other).  The ironic thing though is that it hasn’t really worked that way.  Sure, she sees my posts and I see hers, I see what she likes and she (I guess) sees what I like.  I see updated photos of her kids and that’s nice.  I can’t believe how fast they grow.  But that’s about it.  We really don’t communicate directly with each other much.  And I have to admit that lack of direct communication, coupled with the ability to simply watch is a little off-putting for me.  Probably some of that is just that neither of us have the time.  I think that’s okay because our lives have headed in different directions that are perhaps hard for the other to comprehend, but I still feel a little sad that it didn’t turn out like it was promised.

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

That aside though, joining Facebook was a good thing for me, and as well as putting me back in contact with people from the past, it has also given me the opportunity to ‘meet’ a whole lot of other people who have become very special to me (even though we have never met).  It also enabled me to get involved in mental health support groups.  This was very important in continuing to work on my own recovery as well as now being able to help others.Unfortunately, because I now run two groups on Facebook, I regularly come across trolls, or people who create a false identity in order to create chaos in social media sites.  The chaos that is caused by these people, and I’ve had a few who were expert in their field, puts me off the whole Facebook thing entirely.  I’m not about to leave Facebook because the good outweighs the bad, but it reminds me daily that we don’t really know who we are interacting with across the internet.  Really nothing much can prove an internet identity and I am constantly wary.  Gut feeling counts for a lot but even then, a couple of times I have been badly wrong.

So now I enter into the world of Twitter.  Three days on, and I am following 12 people and I am getting tired already of being asked to follow the New Zealand All Blacks (our national rugby team).  I’m a rare kiwi in that I am not interested in their every move but I suspect Twitter is going to keep asking me to follow them.  No!  Back to the point though, I have this feeling in my stomach that I am stalking those 12 I have followed.  They didn’t give me permission to ‘follow’ them.  I just chose to.  I know what it is like to be followed and frankly I’m not comfortable with it.

The other side is, of course, that while only one is following me so far, I am kind of relieved.  Don’t get me wrong.  If you are a friend I am happy for you to follow me but… maybe if Twitter could just use a different term I might feel more comfortable.  There is also a reverse to this that I must confess.  One person is following me!  Wow! How many people on Twitter have only one follower?  How sad is that?  I know, I know, I can’t be satisfied either way.

(And don’t get me wrong.  I want to interact with both friends and yet-to-be-friends through social media.  It’s just that this voice of caution is always sitting on my shoulder.  I’m also not afraid of anyone in particular.  It’s simply a cloud of, perhaps, irrational fear generated from years of looking over that shoulder.)

I’m going to say this although I fear what your reaction might be.  This bind of not wanting to be followed, yet wanted to be followed is something that happens with real stalking too, and I am only too well aware of it.  Not for one moment would I suggest that being stalked is a pleasant experience because it’s anything but.  Somewhere deep inside, for someone who was full of self hate and doubt, the concept that someone (or two) thought I was worth stalking really did my head in.  When I felt unloved by others in my life there was this tiny voice that said ‘well, they will love you’.  Sick as it is, and I hate it immensely, it’s just one of the many ways that stalking really gets to you.  It becomes impossible to know what is real and what is not.  And they didn’t really love me.  It was an obsession that was anything but love, but the mind plays powerful games.

But again, back to Twitter. 🙂

What do I do?  I don’t like the idea of people knowing what I’m doing, without me knowing that they are watching.  Would I be better forgetting Twitter?  Or should I stick it out?  Is it just me?  Even though I have come a million miles forward to recovery from my lengthy stalking experience, am I just letting it trip me up?  If you have any thoughts on this I would love to hear them.  I need some rational input into what is perhaps slightly irrational.

Meanwhile, my Twitter account is set up and my blog posts are going there, but do I feel comfortable? Not entirely.

Image representing Skype as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

PS.  I should add that Skype totally does my head in too, although I can see benefits.  The idea of someone, not physically with me, being able to see me sitting at my computer?  No, that’s way to freaky for me.  No doubt though, like Facebook and Twitter, eventually I will give in to this when I someone gives me a good enough reason to abandon such founded but still irrational fear.

All that said, I don’t find WordPress is a problem, so maybe it is all just irrational.

I’m re-training my mind!
Image via FB – A Beautiful Mess Inside


20 thoughts on “Is It Just Me?

  1. It is so great to realize that I’m not the only one who feels this same way, although not exactly the same! Since joining Facebook, I sometimes feel like I’m being so overly nosey with my family and friends’ profiles. And, even more strong is the sense that I am stalking those who I’ve known in the past, but don’t want to have anything to do with now. Yet, I will go through their profile if it is public. I mean how lame is that!?!? I wouldn’t want them to do that with me, yet I’m doing it to them. I have the highest of security settings on my account, but I still worry that people will find me the same way.

    From reading your post, I think twitter has drummed up some of those awful fears that you had from your stalking experience. I don’t think it’s irrational for you to be feeling this way due to the fact that you had a very real and terrifying experience of being tracked and followed by someone who you didn’t want to get near you. And, for very good reasons. In that sense, I don’t believe it is irrational. However, I think in regards to your following 12 people and feeling as if you’re stalking them, you are placing fear in an innocent activity. I don’t have a twitter, but as a now FB user, I do understand that although I feel like I’m doing something wrong and “stalking” these old acquaintances from years past, I am also doing what is meant to be done. If someone keeps their account public, well then, I guess they *want* people to follow their profile. The same goes with Twitter. I’m not sure how that works, like if you have private or public options, but either way… if someone creates a twitter account for all to see, then they know that they are possibly being watched. The whole point of all of these sites like FB, Twitter, etc, is so people can share their lives. If they choose to leave themselves open to the world, then they should understand that the world may just be watching.

    I can totally understand your worry and fears about acting with stalker-ish behavior, as I feel that with myself and FB at times, but I think it’s important to remember that these sites are there for such purposes. If people don’t want to be watched or followed, then they just need to close their accounts.

    So, I wouldn’t worry to much about doing anything wrong. However, as you have gone through your own experience with stalking, I would do what is most comfortable for yourself. But, what I say is how *I* feel, I do not have the same experience as you had with being stalked. But, if it seems to cause too many old fears to come back into your life, then I would maybe suggest taking a break from Twitter. I say this just ’cause you don’t want it to cause yourself anymore pain from that horrible experience than you’ve already endured. In the end, that will make Twitter a negative experience for you… the complete opposite of what it’s meant to be.

    Just my two cents. 🙂

    1. Your two cents is very much appreciated. I’m glad I’m not the only one but you raise an interesting point that this is what these sites are really all about. Is all about watching people and I wonder how we got on before we had such means? Before social media I guess we just didn’t know so much, but how much is too much? I know I am over-cautious. In the last few days I see FB has stepped up how much it tells people what you have liked. I feel indignant! I have my privacy ratings set high like you, yet I can’t even like a picture without ‘everyone’ knowing. It just makes me feel all the more certain that being wary who ‘everyone’ is pays.

      Actually I’m still trying to work out the point of Twitter. LOL. It simply seems like a whole lot of one-liners which aren’t long enough to say anything. I think I will reserve judgment on it and see how it goes, but thanks so much for your thoughts. It’s great to have some rational input. 🙂

      1. You’re welcome! 🙂 And, you’re right about the “liking” on FB. So many times, I stop myself from liking something ’cause I don’t want everyone to know about it. I wish there was a way to turn that off, but hopefully they’ll add such an option in the future.

      2. Cate,
        Before internet, email, and social media, we had nosy neighbors, good (and not so good) intentioned extended family and friends, all sharing and gossiping over the fence, on the porch, and over the telephone lines. Also, the only reality tv were game shows.

        Once we gained Jerry Springer, Real World, MySpace and 1,000 cable channels vying for the newest celebrity du jour inviting cameras to follow them to the bathroom, and collegiates wanting to find fun ways to stalk and shame one another we graduated to fb & twitter. Mutual voyeurism. What fun, what fun.

        All that being said, fb has allowed me to reconnect to many important people from my past and meet and establish connection with new people. However, as you said, it becomes way too easy to let them drift in the news stream without actually engaging. The dissatisfaction of that lack of connection contributed to me starting my blog. I had created a group of people I hoped to strengthen and deepen my relationships with through fb and it was a way for me to share with them the deeper things going on with me.

        Very seldom do they actually link over and read though. Instead, I have met and followed and am now being followed by a whole lot of people I’ve never met. It’s a weirdly gratifying feeling, but each time I get a new follower, my first thought is, “Who are you?” closely followed by, “How did you find me and why are you following me.” I think this is the internet/social media equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome: I hate that I have become so dependently needy of the validation and gratification of someone I have no connection to clicking on “Like” or “Follow”.

        Ok. Enough. Done ranting and raving like the lunatic I am.

      3. Nothing lunatic about that Kina. Actually I agree with it all so maybe we’re both lunatics, but I don’t think so. It is weird isn’t it to have all these meaningful connections without ever having sited the people, but then if I didn’t have that then I’d be stuck back where I was a few years ago when I had concluded that it wasn’t safe to trust anyone (in real life) so I wasn’t going to. I guess in 20 years all this will be perfectly normal… Thanks for ranting and raving! I like it when people do that. 🙂

  2. I sort of have a different way of being uncomfortable. I’m afraid to ask people to be my friend or follow them because I’m afraid I’m bothering them. Why would they want me as a friend? Why would they want me as a follower? All last week I kept bringing up the choose-your-own-adventure blog on my main blog, and I felt like I was being very annoying. I mean, I know people have to know about it to read it, and the premise requires there to be people to read it. But I don’t know. I’m afraid that it’s going to fizzle out because I won’t be able to sustain it–who wants to read *me* writing that blog? Who wants to read *me* try to be clever? I just feel like a bother, in my real life, too, that sometimes I wish I could melt into the walls.

    Ironically, I do find it much easier to insert myself into things online, though, as an anonymous person. I guess I get more the sense of no one would even read my stuff or whatever if they didn’t want to. And if people ask me to be their friend or follow me . . . well, perhaps I’m not bothering them by doing the same.

    1. That makes so much sense to me because I find myself almost apologetic for ‘bothering’ people and for me, I have this fear that people will see my name and think “oh that **** Cate again”. I am surprised when people want to hear from me or to become friends/followers or whatever. I’m guessing that comes down to how much, or little, I value myself.

      It’s interesting what you say about it being easier to insert yourself online. Me too, and in some ways that disturbs me. But then I know that for so many people it is the same. For so many it is a way to be in contact with the world at all, and that has to be a good thing. Although I’m starting (only starting! LOL) to think that if I can do it here then why can’t I do it in the real world? Something to work on. 🙂

  3. Lol…Its interesting to see that these thoughts float through other peoples head and not just mine. With FB I try to keep it limited to just family and real friends because I post personal pictures and real life updates on there. But my twitter is much more general information. I barely posts any pics of myself since anyone can follow you on twitter 🙂

    1. I thikn you’re very wise. Actually I don’t post pics (of myself anyway) anywhere. It’s one of the rules I make for myself just because of the experience I’ve had with stalking but yes, it’s necessary to be wise. Thanks for your comments. IT’s nice to know I’m not the only one… 🙂

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