Tag Archives: facebook

What is in a name

Would a rose smell as sweet … 

Okay this isn’t about names, at least not entirely. As some of you reading this will know, I don’t go by my given name on some social media platforms, predominantly Facebook. I have taken a gender neutral name which for the most part seems to be taken as a male name. I KNOW RIGHT? Assuming my gender like that. Coupled with this, apparently my profile pictures cause some confusion. 

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So my attempt at a degree of anonymity on line does appear to be bearing some fruit? Well I signed up to Sarahah on a whim at the weekend and combined with my then profile picture (a cat), I picked an illustration a friend had completed earlier which I kinda liked. 

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I didn’t really get much interaction, even after talking to my friend about this, and further inspired by an anonymous comment made about never using my own picture as a profile (profile pictures tend to be set as public, reasoning is to make it easier to tell if you are stalking the right person) which is untrue. However, I used a festival makeup look selfie I had taken a couple of weeks ago that I was pleased with. I changed both my profile picture on FB and within the app. 

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Now I have mentioned my perceived ambiguity on social media previously and how it can lead to frustrating and upsetting interactions. In groups that I spend time in which are mixed gender, it is often assumed that I am male. Luckily the downright rude comments are kept to a minimum. I didn’t realise how much of a different changing a profile picture would have to my interactions.

This is small scale compared to experiments where men pretend to be women on social media etc etc but it just proves again that we are all dealing with people on how they present themselves. I was going to write a blog on Cat-Fishing (a term I am going to assume that you are all aware of) and how this makes me uncomfortable.

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It is all linked in. I don’t tend to put up many makeup free/normal selfies of myself. I don’t encourage tagging in such photos either.  So while I do argue that most of my profile pictures are of me, they are of a version of me, a better version of me. With good skin, great hair, looking like a drag queen, a fairy, a unicorn, mermaid… I won’t go on but you get the idea. So I guess because I do control what images of me go on social media, I am editing how people can perceive me. This is cat fishing to a degree, as much as I struggle against it. 

I guess the problem here is that, there is no winning. Text lacks body language, and inflection and sound in order to be able to take cues from a person that one would normally expect when first meeting someone. So as much as I might struggle again using a ‘normal’ photo of me, my profile picture will be what most people use to base their initial and subsequent interactions on. That is if they don’t already know me outside the SM bubble, or if they do end up meeting me. The latter can be utterly terrifying, it is like you are being unmasked at the end of a Scooby cartoon.

 

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Sex sells, pretty brings gazes, it is not news to anyone. When you are picking a profile picture how much effort do you put into it. Do you just pick the first selfie you have, do you pick something more meaningful, a memory, event, your pet, child. All the considerations or lack thereof will all have a bearing on how you are interacted with. In the same way they are generally. When you get dressed in the morning, no matter what your personal style is, you know that people you interact with will respond to it. So, it is no different in this context. I chose cover myself in a little anonymity on line, and that is fine. I have no problem with it. But now I have written this reflective account, it is interesting to see how much different just changing a profile picture can make your interactions. 

Sorry if anyone was expecting a feminist rant 🙂 I am sure I can come up with one later! 

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Life on line

So this is something I am writing on the back of an incident I witnessed this week. I play MMORPG’s – as I have probably mentioned, and WOW is one of my favourites and I have been playing for over 10 years.

This week, in one of the groups that I am in on WOW, a kid started a thread about how upset he was that he had been banned from wow. It then transpired that he had been due to language he used, and sexual harassment toward other players in game. When people commenting on the thread were not sympathetic to his situation, he turned to racial slurs, death threads and wishing people would ‘die’ – and this was just what was being posted on the thread and not what was being privately messaged to people.

A member of the group messaged the kids uncle and explained what had happened, and updated us to say that the kids mother had contacted the police to have a chat with him.

And this is where it started unravelling. I had passively watched it all happen to this point (sometimes your voice does not need to be added to a situation) but felt motivated to speak when it was suggested that contacting the parents (or family members) was too much.

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Comments where made in the group that people over stepped the mark, that it was just ‘a kid’ being ‘a kid’ and ‘its just a game’.

Okay. Let us just stop RIGHT THERE. This is not a gender issue either – this is an issue of boundaries, manners and respect. The fact someone was so incensed by a situation on a game – and therefore something intangible – was not something to be dismissed. That he then lacked the social skills to deal with criticism, constructive or otherwise and the only way he could react was lashing out. But it was more than that – it was the language used, the threats.

If you are not going to say it to someone face, it shouldn’t be said on line. The anonymity that the internet offers, is both good and bad. It allows people freedom, you can avoid judgements, have another life, but on the other hand, people quickly find themselves either saying or doing things they would never normally do because the mask is in place, or they find themselves victims of bullying, sexual harassment, and stalking. Because it is in line and not so easily quantified, people don’t feel that it can be reported in the same way. 

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Another point made in the threads about the afore mentioned FB post is that if it is reported to the police it would ruin the kids life. I would suggest that if he is under 16, and this is a first offence, the only thing that is likely to happen is that he gets a visit and a chat about what consequences could be in the hope that it knocks some sense in him.

As an adult though, being aware of what you are putting on line is much more important – I don’t know about you, but when I was at school it was drilled into me that my actions while in uniform could and would be help up for inspection. This is the same in my working life, I can’t comment on things directly relating to my work, my job. I can’t share views, I can’t (and shouldn’t) make disparaging comments about co workers and employers. This may seem like common sense but the internet, and moreover social media blew up so quickly that employers were caught on the back foot but many employees now find themselves signing confidentiality agreements that include what and what is not acceptable to write online.

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This is another reason, many, like myself, hide behind made up names, and then you have people who because of work, known under different guises, models, actors, personalities who need and want to keep their work and their personal life separate. 

This doesn’t guarantee you won’t be tracked down. It doesn’t mean that you won’t have people putting two and two together to find your actual profile – although with facebook these days, you may find it suggesting your actual profile to people who are friends with your work profile. But I digress, putting yourself out there publicly means that you are likely to get complete strangers commenting on things you share… which is what happened here :

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Now, I happened to post this on my personal profile and have this morning had a conversation with a friend on how children act ‘these days’ and how there needs to be be more parental responsibility but I have to say, I don’t think that is entirely true. What I was trying to illustrate is that it is easy to hide on line, and so many different forums, pages, social media devices now that parents may genuinely struggle – especially those not so technically savvy. With life the way it is, working longer hours, often commuting, spending less real time with your children. I would suggest that children may not be worse, and parents are more lax, it is just that things are moving much faster now.

What I really want to say, after waffling on somewhat in this blog – is that we need to report things. Don’t just brush things off as ‘boys being boys’ or ‘its just a game’ … ‘they are just words’ … ‘stop being so sensitive’.

If you have comments directed at you publicly, or privately, or you see it happening, please don’t feel you shouldn’t report it. It doesn’t matter what age the poster is. It isn’t acceptable, and the longer people feel they are getting away with it, the more it legitimises their actions and make them become normalised. It then colours the entire environment and social interactions therein. It will have a knock on effect on other interactions that what people feel is acceptable. Not only that, everyone should feel safe, if you don’t feel safe, mention it to friend, report it, take it to the police. Don’t ever feel silly doing it.

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Is this real life, or just pixel fantasy … ?

On this week’s show (link below if I remember) we discussed friendship, and the difference between real life and facebook/social media friends. There is some pretty strong opinion that there is no real replacement for real life friends, the type you can go out and have a coffee with and not just message on FB or trade likes on pictures.

Now, I guess I am looking at this from a slightly different angle to most people, whose main contact with the idea of an online friend, is through social media platforms like Facebook. But I have been playing MMORPG’s games a lot longer than I have had a facebook account (Yes, I am THAT old, and yes, I was THAT late to the party). I have known many people for over a decade and that is a strong bond. And I guess, the other thing that binds this sort of relationship is that when playing a computer game, more so MMORPG than say an FPS is that you are having to work as part of a team, it is using the same skills that you would use in your daily life.

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Now, I do spend a fair amount of time on FB, and in various groups, one of which is a World of Warcraft group. This morning one of the members posted something which really tugged at the heart strings, and for me, cements my opinion on whether pixel friends can be real friends, here is her post :

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I got in game tonight only to get a whisper from my oldest friend in the game. I met him when I started playing years ago, in a Ghostlands guild called Jester’s Court. He was the nicest person I had met in the game and showed my boyfriend at the time and myself so much kindness. He’s a big part of the reason I do so many nice things in game. After talking to him and adding him on real ID, I found out he was in his 60s and played after a stroke left him unable to work. His wife liked to watch him play and spend time with him that way, even though she didn’t play herself. When I logged on today he informed me that he had buried her today after weeks of struggle with her health. I never met her nor talked to her, but I cried. I wish I could do something for him so badly to help because it hurts me to know he’s in pain. They were married over 34 years.

This kind of thing is the reason I get a bit upset when people try to say online friendships aren’t “real” friendships. When all of the emotions involved are as genuine as any friendship, whose job is it to judge that it isn’t real?

(I just want to thank Kelly again for allowing me to use her post in my blog – to stay on topic, we aren’t friends on FB but we have managed to connect)

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So really, I think that gaming, and the friends you make there, are not exactly the same as the friends you make on FB, or other social media. I mean really you are not basing any of your opion of that person on first impressions. You don’t know what they look like, often you will not hear them, most of the conversation will be related to the game. Any of the other information shared is going to be edited heavily. And you are, again, working as a team. Be it because you are in a guild together, because you group to do quests together, of because you run dungeons together. It still comes back to having to work together, to some extent. Its like having a really, really long blind date. You are basing your opinions on someone purely on your in game interactions.

Sure, that female elf character you are chatting to, could be a middle aged man, could be a teenager, could be an actual girl. But unlike your social interactions when face to face, or when you have real ‘proof’ – you are going to treat them differently to your other social interactions. Although you may eventually end up adding them on Facebook, follow them on twitter, and drool over their pictures of food loaded onto I.G – your friendship has already been cemented without a lot of the window dressing normal relationships have.

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Last week I also instigated a discussion on my facebook page, following people proclaiming social media as evil and that they would be seeing who their ‘real friends are’ by who would keep in contact them outside a social media platform.

One friend said that she feels she can be the person she wants to be online, and more herself.

Another, that she has more friends online, and that she goes to those friends (myself included) before her ‘real’ friends. That she feels that she is ‘cooler’ online.

Another suggested ‘Its not how you meet someone its how you interact with em in my view.’ Which i really liked.

I had an interesting discussion with a friend :For me it’s been a lifeline too. Especially as an adult, it’s been helpful for friendships. I have to spend so much time at work, I don’t know how I’d make friends otherwise. Too, I’ve always wanted my work life separate from my non-work life. And I’m in a weird position also where I’m stuck between too different generations at work: Baby Boomers and Millennials. I connect and relate to way more people now than I did previously to being on social media and even having a smart phone. Also, too, I think back to when the lovely wife was on hard-core anti-viral meds, then immunosuppressants to combat the uveitis that is taking her sight. She was sick constantly. We couldn’t go anywhere. When I wasn’t at home, I was at work. We saw virtually no one we knew in real life. If it wasn’t for social media, I think we both would have broken under the weight of that loneliness.

While another friend offered this : There are different categories of online friends, I think. People you’ve never met, people you’ve met once or twice, people you meet irregularly, people you used to see regularly, but don’t anymore (what with all that growing up shiz people do), ad people you see regularly. Friendships tend to get stronger / the people tend to mean more to you as you move through those categories, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

I will continue to look at friendships in another blog post, so keep your eyes out. It is interesting to think about how or why relationships work and I hope you have enjoyed my blog x

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