You know how much I love social media, particularly twitter. Connecting with people from around the world, accessing breaking news and broadening my horizons will never lose its appeal.
But as with most things in life, there is a down side.
Not all connections made are good ones.
Ever received a friend request on Facebook from someone who bullied you mercilessly at school? Or a toxic ex you hoped had disappeared forever?
I bet you have.
This week, while updating my LinkedIn profile, I clicked through to “People you may Know”.
It was late, I was tired, just skimming through.
Then I saw her name.
My heart skipped a beat.
My mother’s name.
Who I haven’t seen since 1995. Who hasn’t met my husband or my children.
(It’s a long story, but one of the best decisions I ever made)
As far as I know she is retired, so what was she doing on there?
I realised as soon as clicked through to her profile, she would know I had looked.
Cue frantic privacy setting changes.
Once my breathing had returned to normal, I sloped off to bed.
Laying there in the dark, I wondered how the LinkedIn algorithms worked.
She doesn’t have my email address. She isn’t in contact with anyone I am connected to.
She must have looked me up.
Thank goodness for privacy settings.
But is it worth worrying about it? Can anyone really be anonymous today?
In my case, no. I have a blog for a start!
And even if I didn’t have a blog, a quick google of my name shows my LinkedIn profile, twitter account, a link to a feature I wrote, and a misspelt Facebook link which ultimately leads you to my account.
What people see once they click these links is limited because I am careful with privacy settings (except twitter), but you can still see me. The city I live in and an idea of what I’m up to.
My social media footprint is there.
Now I have nothing to hide (being a bit of an over sharer), but what if you do?
What if you are escaping an abusive relationship or looking for a job?
That 2am sweary twitter rant might be just the thing a prospective employer is looking for, before deciding whether or not to call you in for an interview.
They way I have talked openly about my mental health issues might put people off.
Worrying about how I was perceived online, I attempted to make the blog anonymous (ha!).
If I want to keep something private, it stays in my head.
The fact that my mother can trace me, doesn’t worry me either.
But it’s a cautionary tale.
Social media can offer as many unwanted connections as those we seek to make.