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Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Does the Internet Give People a False Sense of Reality?

I've often thought about this question so today I've decided to blog about it.

The internet has been around for a while now providing some fantastic opportunities. People can do almost anything at the click of a button, from booking flights to the other side of the world to arranging to meet complete strangers.

People can make a fortune via this amazing technology and it is through the internet that I hope to make a worthwhile career for myself by producing high quality ebooks.

But even though the internet is responsible for many wonderful things, it also has a much darker side. I am not going to go into the evils of terrorism acts or child pornography, but I happened to stumble upon a message in my inbox yesterday which made me feel uneasy.

I am an author of two published books and I've just finished my third. I hope to sell these books and I realise I have to do a fair bit of networking to achieve this. Therefore I accept I have to utilise the internet and social media to connect with people. But I would now like to state that any networking I do is only for professional reasons. I am a member of numerous writing and travel groups all over the internet and it's here that I've made some fabulous friends who admire my work.

But I've also had the unfortunate of experience of being targeted by certain people who send me messages thinking that they know me and my entire life story just because they've happened to see one single photo of me. This particular person reckons they know my personality inside out just because of the way I look in this photo and they've requested some very personal information about me.

Not only am I shocked and horrified to read this message, I'm also outraged that this person felt like they had the right to send me this email.

Now maybe I could understand it more if I was a member of an online dating agency, and I had numerous profiles stating that I'd like to be contacted by different men who are looking for a relationship but there is nothing at all in any profile of me stating this to be the case.

I average at about one message per year of this sort of content and I was only chatting to a good friend of mine in one of my writer's groups the other day about this topic. (Hi, Ian, this is not you I am referring to here ;) ) He kindly suggested that I should maybe change my photo so more of my face is visible. And after this other message, I think I just might!

So in this case I think the internet can be blamed for giving people a false sense of reality. Either that or it provides people with a certain mindset the perfect opportunity to contact other unsuspecting people.

Now it's time for you to share your opinions with me on this matter. What do you think and have you had any personal experience of this matter yourself?


  1. I don’t think this is a problem unique to the Internet. We think we know most people but what we usually do is take what we do know and extrapolate. Film and TV stars suffer from this all the time: people confuse them with the character they play on screen. I hear all these stories about soap stars getting people coming up to them and commiserating if their character has lost a loved one in a recent episode. Seriously! Or if they play a baddie then they have to watch out someone doesn’t take a swing at them. They have to accept that this is part of life. I’ve even seen myself treat a person differently because they remind me of someone I was fond of. And I’ve known I was doing it. You know what it’s like when you’re out with a group and someone comes onto you—or maybe that’s never happened to you (you see, because you’re a girl I’m assuming)—or you’ve seen them make a play for someone else and it’s obvious they’ve completely misread the signs. If people have expectations they have a tendency to see ins where they don’t really exist. Just be grateful you don’t get a lot of it. You’re not to blame. It’s not a matter of assigning blame. It’s simply a matter of accepting that these things happen and getting on with it.

    1. LK, I'm sorry this happened to you, and I know some trepidation is in order, like you've lost your right to privacy. As Jim mentions, it's not unique to the Internet. However it is part of the new Open-Information Age, and it's important to figure out where you want your privacy borders to be, before wading in too deep.Firstly make sure your physical whereabouts is a secret. Hiding your real name with a pseudonym is often a good idea, but then if you link other profiles, the baddies will find you.
      Finally, keep your door locked and bolted--especially tonight, Halloween, when the ghosties roam.

  2. Hi Jim,

    These are very wise words you speak. I hadn't thought about celebrities but of course this sort of thing happens to them all the time. Only recently Joss Stone had to go through an horrific ordeal of men trying to kidnap and murder her. What an ordeal for someone to go through just because they happen to be famous.


    Yes privacy is always paramount to me and I certainly never disclose my exact whereabouts. I used to work in a Psychiatric hospital so I know all about people dangers. And I also refrain from mentioning too much of my personal life in my blogs etc. But I will tell you this - my boyfriend is a master of martial art! ;) I don't care who knows that information! ;) Ha ha!