The ups and downs of social media

I’m going to start this with a confession…I’m not a fan of social media.  What I mean by that is, it seems like something that started as a fun thing–hey, let’s hook up with friends on this new-fangled Facebook thingie! –has turned into work.  At least it feels like it at times.  I met someone a few weeks back who’s first words were, “you haven’t put out a blog in a while!” with mock disapproving tone.  She was joking, but I think there’s an expectation that’s ultimately built up: when you enter into each social media forum, you then have to keep the communication flowing.

Unfortunately, that leads to some bad stuff.  I mean, really, can you imagine how little I care when you post on facebook that you’re enjoying your morning coffee?  Or that you’re driving to work?  Or any of the million mundane things we do?  Posting them as your status doesn’t make them any less mundane, people.  And that goes double for the check-in notices.  “Tobin just checked into Canadian Tire.”  Really.  Who cares?  Now, if that was, “Tobin just checked into the Betty Ford Clinic” well now, that would be news, wouldn’t it?

Anyway, mundane crap aside, there’s other upsides and downsides to social media.  Like, who else is surfing those same digital seas as you.  Just this morning, I went to the latest WCDR breakfast meeting (and if you weren’t there, too bad for you, Ian Brown was absolutely brilliant), and I got to meet a couple of people whom I’ve only had contact through my blog or one of the other social media outlets I’m on.  That was a blast.  Why?  Because as nice as it is to meet someone new online, I’m a little more old school (okay, my kids would just say old) in that I prefer to meet face to face.

So that’s the upside.  I get tons of new friends.  And some of them (in fact, one of my favourite bloggers, Annie Boreson’s Atoll Annie and the Non-Specific Rim – check it out, you need to) are in different parts of the world.  Which is totally cool.

And there was the pleasant surprise I got this week too, a new friend that came out of the blue.

Then, unfortunately, there’s the downside to social media.  The people who can find you that you don’t want to.  The ones that you never want to ever even see, let alone hear from again.

A couple of days ago, I got a Facebook email from a sociopath that I once had the misfortune of knowing.  This is a guy that stalked a girl for far too long (after he’d gone out with her, then cheated on her so she rightly dumped his ass) and made her life a living hell.  He literally lost his job due to taking so much time off to trail her everywhere.  He got into her place and replaced all the pictures she had with pics of himself and his kid.  When she came over to our apartment, I found out he’d spent the evening outside our door listening to everything.  He’d show up and yell at her in the middle of the night.  He’d show up where she worked.  He’d show up when she was grocery shopping.  He wouldn’t stop.

I can’t stress enough how much of an evil psychopath this guy was.

After the listening at the apartment door incident, I told him to stay away from my family (which at that time was my wife and newborn daughter) or I’d kill him.  Yes, I threatened his life.  You don’t mess with my family.

A couple of years later, he happened by where I was working at the time.  Walked up to me with a big smile like we were long-lost BFFs or something.  I told him in not-nice language where to go.  He looked confused, but he left.

A few years back, he recognized my wife when we were camping locally (my wife knew she knew him from somewhere but couldn’t place him).  He showed up at the campsite a few minutes later, with a female companion and a child.  I walked past him and quietly (so as not to freak out the child) told the women to get as far away from him as she could and sketched a few quick details of his behaviour.  Then I went over to him and quietly and in not-nice language not only where to go, but to never attempt to come near me or mine again.  He again looked confused, but he left.

And now, two days later, I get a Facebook email from this very same freak.  “There’s a lot of things we do early in life that we regret later.”  He told me that he was troubled back then, that he suffered from “acute anxiety”…really.  I’ve known several people that suffered from that…not one of them stalked someone else.  I think he may have got it mixed up…I think he actually meant that he actually caused acute anxiety in those he interacted with.

So, yet again, I’ve had to explain to him, in great and gory detail, exactly what I think of him, exactly where he can take his regrets and apologies and shove them, and exactly what he needs to do when it comes to attempting to worm (and there was never a more appropriate term for this) his way back into my life.

I’ve had dealings with at least three absolute sociopaths in my life.  I know what to look for now, I know the signs.  And this guy is a sociopath.  How else to do you explain his absolute lack of understanding of human psychology?  How else does he not understand, when I’ve made in stunningly, high-definition, 3-D, Dolby Digital surround-sound clear on multiple occasions that he is a shit-stain on the face of the planet and that the human race would have been better off if he’d been not only barred from procreating, but also if his particular brand of DNA had be eliminated from existance?

Simple.  He’s psychotic and doesn’t see human relationships the same as a normal being.  He doesn’t understand empathy because he has none.  So he’s manipulating.

And the scary thing?  He’s out there.  In Durham Region.  He looks just like you or I.  But he’s not human.

And he can find me…and you…through social media.

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